Monday, January 16, 2012

Accountability and Focus

Some of you may have been part of an accountability group at some time in your life. I've been in men's groups that began with the intent to be that. Interestingly, those groups broke up before the amount of trust necessary was built up. As my understanding of grace and the Gospel has changed over the years, my view of such groups has also changed.

I do believe it is vital for God's people to spend time with one another to exhort and build up each other, and that we are called to make disciples. I think the focus of many accountability groups is on the wrong thing. Of course, that may be due to the fact that the focus of many churches is wrong. Accountability groups are usually formed in an attempt to help a group of folks stop doing any number of sinful behaviors. The idea is that if a member knows he will be asked if he did _____________________ during the time between meetings. That may cause enough fear to keep them from committing that sin. It also may drive them to lie and become more adept at hiding it. Focusing on sin can create an atmosphere of self-righteousness on the part of those who can control themselves, and failure and shame on the part of those who continue to stumble.

I believe that our focus in the church and in any group of Christ-followers should be on Jesus and what he has done for us. When Jesus cried, "It is finished!" I believe that he meant more than just the work of sacrificing himself for our sins. I believe that Jesus was saying that it all is finished, that there is nothing else for us to do. Once we are adopted as God's children, we are in Christ. We are the Father's beloved sons and daughters, and we have the Holy Spirit living in us. There is nothing we must or can do to earn God's favor, it is already ours.

As we focus on God's love for us and the fact that we are God's children, our mindset becomes one of desiring to live like the sons and daughters of God that we are. Rather than focus on our sins and trying harder to do better, we remember that because Jesus has done it all, we can do what God wants us to do. When we do sin, it is because we have forgotten who we are. Look at the letters of Paul in the New Testament. He is constantly telling his readers to live like the people they really are, not like the ones they used to be.

We do need to exhort and encourage each other. We cannot live without it. Rather than trying to find out if a brother or sister has sinned in the past week, we need to remind each other that it is finished. Jesus has done it all and God has given us everything we need to live a godly life. As we give each other the Gospel, we remind each other to live out of our heritage because we are God's children and we have his nature in us. We are a new creation.

Don't focus on sin. Focus on Jesus.

6 comments:

Mike Erich the Mad Theologian said...

Having been involved in such groups in the past, I have to agree that focusing on our sins is the wrong approach. It focuses on fear and our will power, rather then the power of God.

co_heir said...

Yep. Thanks for the comment.

Kansas Bob said...

Good stuff Fred! I remember telling a group of inmates who were wanting to start an accountability group that they would be better off just meeting to get to know and love each other.

co_heir said...

Bob, I'm finding that the problem is that it's hard to find folks who will make the commitment to really get to know and love others, and then keep that commitment when things get messy.

Kansas Bob said...

I understand Fred. It is hard to penetrate superficial barriers.

co_heir said...

Even when you do, you often find deeper barriers. People don't understand what it takes to really love and encourage one another, and when they find out, they leave

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