Problem solved. Someone read the post yesterday and said he needs an accountability partner, too. We had our first meeting last night. This will be good for both of us. I’ll keep you updated on what this looks like as we learn what this is all about. For now, we have established two guidelines. First, we intend to make forward progress. Neither of us need another coffee club. Second, we learn how to do this so that we can separate and do this with others. I don’t know when this will be, but the body of Christ needs this.
Here’s the thing. We aren’t meant to be alone. We aren’t meant to tackle our problems alone. Certainly, the devil schemes to isolate us so that we may fall into despair. His aim is to ultimately destroy us. Steal and kill and destroy. There is strength in numbers. A three-cord strand is not easily broken, right? Being alone is a trap that is very, very difficult to escape from even though we really are not trapped. It’s like a jail cell that isn’t locked.
Our shame is what keeps us in that jail cell. I’m trying to think of a situation in which this doesn’t apply. Ultimately, I don’t want people to know that I have a particular problem(s). Oh, sure, I can readily admit that the holidays are terrible for my diet or that I watch too much TV, but I can’t let anyone know just how bad things really are. I can’t let people know that I am utterly helpless around the buffet or that the reason I watch TV is to absolutely escape reality. I grew up in a violent home, and even then, shame kept us from getting help until it got so bad we had no other choice. We simply did not want anyone to know just how horribly the leader of our home was abusing everyone. That was true for all of us, not just my mother.
Yet, you would think that everything is just fine within the church. Sure, we think we may be able to spot a family that probably has problems, and so-and-so looks like he needs some work. But, overall, things are pretty good. Yes, it’s true that church is an easy place to smile, as it should be, but we have also made it a place where it is difficult to frown or, gasp, weep.
In my opinion, this whole thing is a huge problem. We are all accountable for this. Let’s take a look at a couple verses:
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for a man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Just imagine the conversation Jesus will have with us the day we die from cancer when we have to confess that we didn’t quit smoking because we didn’t trust him to remove that sin! But, you don’t smoke, you say! Well, my guess is we will all have plenty of business to go over with Jesus on that Day. The way I read the 1st Corinthians passage is that I would be wise to tear down anything I have built with wood or hay and replace it with that which will withstand the fire. Hence, I need to be diligent to conquer my sin.
Again, it is my opinion that this is a topic that is seemingly silent in our churches. One could quickly point the finger at leadership. I know many bible preachers well. I know for a fact that many do not have an accountability partner. I also know many others that are silent on this which leads me to believe that they don’t have one either. I hear on the radio that isolation is a major problem with pastors. Certainly, the pastors will be held accountable for their own lives but also for what they teach, or don’t teach, their congregations. But, that doesn’t absolve the responsibility of the congregation.
2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:1-5 All Scripture is breathed out by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
If you are a pastor, you may be offended by this, but please don’t be. Consider it a cry from your congregation. We need to confess our sins. We need to conquer our sin. We need the church to hold us accountable. We need close, intimate partners. We need to claim the freedom that Jesus promises.
As for the rest of us, this passage should convict as well as encourage. Does your pastor have an accountability partner? Besides his wife, who does your pastor confess his sins to? Do you not know? Why not? Is it none of your business? Tell me, does your pastor have a besetting sin? What is it? What sin has he conquered lately? Do you not know? Is it none of your business? My friends, if your pastor isn’t leading by example, I suggest you have an opportunity to encourage him.
The common rebuttal I have heard is this: who can the pastor ultimately trust? If the deep, dark secrets are exposed, that could destroy the church. I’ve heard both pastors and congregants say this. But let’s think about this for a minute. If the pastor has secrets, that means s/he has unresolved sin. If he has unresolved sin, he isn’t conquering it. If she isn’t conquering it, it’s because she hasn’t dealt with it. In other words, she is harboring it. On the other hand, if he has conquered sin, then he should share that. He will want to share it. Why? So he can give Jesus the glory for delivering him from this body of sin and death. By this he is teaching and leading his congregation. Folks, the whole reason Jesus died on the cross is to deliver us from sin, is it not? And, he WILL be glorified in that. How wonderful would it be if we were leading the parade on this!
This brings us back to our unlocked jail cell. We don’t want our pastor to bare his soul and confess his sin to the congregation. Why? Because he will then encourage us to do the same thing. Why is that a problem? Because we are ashamed. Again, how about you? Do you have an accountability partner?
Folks, let’s break this bondage.
Father, move your church. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers
Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@chriswindus
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