Posted by: pastortomvabeach | September 24, 2013

Thought For The Week September 22, 2013

Rev. Daniel Henderson sends a weekly e-devotion that always causes me to step back and look at myself. This week he talked about accountability. I want to share part of his thoughts and apply it in a bit different way than he did because I believe it is vital to our walk with the Lord.

“Poet and preacher John Donne wrote, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself…’ This is especially true of Christ followers and is the necessary practice of those who have been baptized together by the Spirit into one body. In fact, we are an integral part of one another as believers. We need each other for the sake of encouragement, mutual ministry, fulfillment of our shared mission, and personal character development.

“The willingness to be genuinely connected and accountable cannot be reduced to a legalistic series of discomforting questions or a written report to a heavy-handed spiritual advisor. Real accountability springs from the willingness of the heart to be in biblical relationship with other believers. It is the fruit of a deep passion to live an authentic life. ‘Getting by’ is not acceptable for the one who desires accountability. An accountable Christian knows that while he cannot fool God, he can fool others – but chooses to do neither.

“Reflecting on Galatians 2:1-10, I noticed the Apostle Paul’s powerful example of accountability birthed from a passion for an authentic ministry. A portion of the passage says, Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain…and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

“Of course, I encourage you to read this on your own, but here are some profound observations that might help you to desire a genuine and healthy sense of accountability in your life. 1) Paul was an apostle called and commissioned directly by Christ, but was willing to take the initiative to submit his ministry to the spiritual leaders in Jerusalem for consultation and accountability. He did not let his position of authority or his own experience of spiritual power prevent him from pursuing a submissive approach to life and ministry. 2) Paul was well entrenched in his own effective and powerful ministry (for around 14 years) but was still willing to confer with others for evaluation. He stayed open to the teaching of others even when he was already ‘successful’ in his own right. 3) Paul refused to be a lone ranger. Even in going to Jerusalem, he took Barnabas and Titus with him. It was his custom to surround himself with other godly associates everywhere he went. 4) Paul also recognized the importance of mutual accountability as he was forced to confront the powerful Apostle Peter on a later occasion (see vv. 11- 21) over a serious breach of truth and uprightness. Even this is an expression of an authentic love for Christ and His truth. Paul knew, as we do, that accountability can be risky. We must be willing to lose our own standing in the eyes of others in order to help them embrace truth.

“Much more could be said about this passage but the bottom line is this: if the great Apostle Paul willingly pursued accountability for how he lived and what he taught, shouldn’t we constantly seek to grow in our own character through humble, consistent, and genuine accountability to others?”

I think Henderson has hit on something that is difficult for us in 21st century American culture to receive and apply. We live in such an independent, individual focused society that willingly submitting to another is almost foreign to our thinking. But this is precisely the society that Jesus established in His church.

As Henderson mentioned, we need each other in order to live a truly authentic, growing, Christ-like manner. As demonstrated by Paul’s desire to walk in fellowship and accountability with the leaders of the early church, we need to be purposefully connected to a local church that is also in submission to a larger governing body. The New Testament has no example of “Lone Ranger” Christians or of those who bounced willy-nilly between various ministries not quite being in submission to any.

There is a movement today that rightly defines the church as “the called out ones”, those who have been saved by Jesus Christ, individuals who have the Holy Spirit resident within them but refuses to be in vital relationship to any local church. This type of Christianity would have been unknown in the early church. Community and accountability are essential to Christian growth and a large part of that is mutual submission to one another. On my own, I would never get to find out all the blind spots I have in my life. With others around me I benefit so that I can grow in every area as a follower of Christ.

This truth also supports being part of a smaller group for accountability such as a Life Group, a prayer group, etc. I am connected and accountable to the other ministers in our section within the Assembly of God and to a group of pastors of many denominations with whom I meet on a regular basis. In addition, I submit to the oversight of our church board for local accountability. These I do willingly because I want my life to flourish in Christ. With whom are you accountable? I know that’s a hard question but if you want to experience real spiritual vitality and growth it’s essential to find someone who loves you and walk together. My thoughts, what’s yours?

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