You are driving down the street in your car. You come to a stop light. You hear the screeching of tires behind you, look in the rear view mirror and see the look of panic on the driver in the car behind you. They are pushing their brake pedal through the floor. You cringe and await the impact. It comes and you are rear ended. You gather your bearings and realize that no one is hurt. The moment of impact has come and gone. Now comes the dreaded moment of surveying the damage.
You get out of your car. The other driver is already out of their car, apologizing profusely. They freely acknowledge they were at fault. They have all the necessary paperwork and are ready to talk to you.
They come up to you stating “I’m sorry, I was at fault. I have my insurance information ready”
Your response startles them “I have been in wrecks before and you see. When we drive you step on one pedal to make the car go and the other to stop.” You then describe the proper procedure for making a lane change, parallel park, enter the freeway, and come to a complete stop. You take this as an opportunity to re-teach them how to drive….
Wait…that’s not what you do? You what? You get their information and move on. You might try to calm them down and see if everyone involved is OK. You don’t have to re-teach them how to drive, they already know what they have done wrong…Gotcha…Thanks
Confused yet? Let me clarify.
I tend to believe that the accountability system that many of us adhere to is broken and backwards. The current system that many of us follow today makes accountability in the body a two way street. We have accountability partners. We get together and feel this need to lay it all out in front of our brother or sister. We put it all out there and then what happens next varies. Either our partner will put everything they are facing out there or we might pray over the “sins” we have shared. Is there anything wrong with that?
In my view…yes! Accountability is NOT a two-way street. Accountability in the body should move in one direction. That direction is towards Christ. Please do not read that and hear “this guy doesn’t think I should talk about my sins and struggles” as that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that you are not accountable to me in any shape form or fashion. You are accountability to the Lord Jesus Christ and that is all. When we start bringing our sins and struggles and placing them at the feet of our brothers and sisters, then we are not being encouraged to accurately take them to the Lord. When we encourage a system of accountability that has you bringing things to me, then I am replacing Christ. I am becoming an idol. If you come to be looking for absolution or as a fixer the Christ has been replaced. I am NO Christ. That is the first part of the model.
The second part of the model is me. I am accountable to you. I am accountable to walk with you and be there for you. I should be willing to ask “What can I (or we as a body) do to help you with those struggles? Do you need prayer, a phone call every day to see how you are doing?” And I should come through. I am accountable to you as an encourager, but not as an answer giver. The best that I can hope to do is be moved by the Spirit in a manner that helps you be drawn closer to Christ. My only hope can be to help you be buried deeper and deeper into the heart of the Lord.
So back to our accident analogy. When you come to me with your struggles, then I need to look at what my responsibility is to you. You already know what you did or are struggling with. You do not need me to turn things into a “teachable moment”. You know what you did. I do not need to re-hash to you why we fall into fleshly ways. You also do not need me to tell you how to “fix” the problem. You need a brother to walk the extra mile with you and enter into the struggle you are facing.
You do not need me to re-teach you how to drive, you need me to help me calm you down and make sure everyone is OK. You don’t need me to point out that rear-ending me was a mistake. You need me to give you my insurance information and work with you through the repair process. (hopefully that clears up the analogy a little…it’s not a perfect analogy, but it was the first thing that came to mind).
So what should accountability in the body look like?
It should look like Christ. It should look like Jesus dealing with a sinful person. How did He handle them? What did He do? Was he prone to lectures on morality? Was He prone to rehash the faults and lay on the guilt? Did He he turn everything into a sermon? To the best of my recollection the words “Go and sin no more” seemed to dominate. Much of the time, there was little talk of the actual sin.
Accountability is not about holding our brothers and sisters to a moral code. It is not about me imposing my values on you or you imposing your values on me. Accountability in the kingdom is about pushing and encouraging people to be drawn closer and closer to Christ. It is not about me having a right to know your struggles and your sins. It is about encouraging and helping you to dive deeper and deeper into being a member of the body of Christ.
Accountability in the body should focus less on the what and more on how? The focus in a healthy accountability relationship recognizes the struggle and focuses on how do I move my brother or sister closer to the Lord and farther and farther away from the very struggle they are facing? How do I enter into their life and move them where they need to be? It is less and less about words. And your opening up your struggles to me does not give me a free pass into all areas of your life. If you are struggling and desire not to share, I can still be there to help. I can still ask the question “What can I do?” I can still focus on how to get you to the well to meet with Jesus.
Accountability is not about you being accountable to me, but rather about all of us being pushed deeper and deeper into intimacy with Christ.