December 8, 2014
“Are you in an Accountability Group?”
That’s a pretty typical question posed in Christian circles; the incidence of the inquiry seems to go up every time the news reports another Christian leader whose bad choices have taken him/her out of their role and delivered them to the has-been/no-longer-qualified leper colony. It raises intriguing issues: is accountability an elective, or a required status? And… is it a discipline limited to leaders only?
Time out! It’s Christmas for heaven’s sake! Let’s listen to some seasonal music: “You better watch out; you better not cry! Better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town. He’s making a list, checking it twice; gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. Santa Claus is coming to town. He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good, for goodness sake! …You better watch out: Santa Claus is coming to town!”
Wow! There it is, in a holiday hum-along that doesn’t mention the “J word” (no longer okay to mention whose birthday we’re celebrating, in public forums). In the midst of the Christmas crush – absent the crèche – the idea of accountability presents itself!
Here’s the underlying threat to the kids hoping for their annual treasure discovery under the tree: keep your nose clean all year long, or you’ll come up short at Christmas time. You can’t expect to have a holiday haul if you didn’t mind your P’s and Q’s all year long, leading up to the grand pay-off. Santa doesn’t just work part-time at this Christmas gig; he’s on it all year long, constantly monitoring actions and adjusting the distribution list based on what he sees in real-time.
That may be Bing Crosby or Perry Como delivering the lyrics, but the principle is powerful: accountability isn’t just a subject for Christians to bring up when famous leaders fall. The recognition of reportability is even operative around our holiday festivities! “He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake…” The fact is, we’re never “alone” when it comes to making personal choices about playing by the rules or violating what we know to be right!
I hate to break into the countdown (“just 16 more shopping days ‘til…”), but here’s the truth: there is no Santa Claus, and he’s not coming to town. There is, however, a man named Jesus who was born in Bethlehem – His First Advent – and is returning to the Mount of Olives – His Second Advent – and that impending reality raises significant personal perspectives!
“You’d better watch out; you better not cry! Better not pout, I’m telling you why: Jesus Christ is coming (back) to town. He’s making a list, checking it twice; gonna find out who’s faithful and true. Jesus Christ is coming (back) to town. He sees you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been fruitful or not, so be fruitful for His sake! …You’d better watch out: Jesus Christ is coming (back) to town…” (a lyrical interpretation of the New Testament message)
“Are you in an Accountability Group? I know they’re asking if you meet weekly – with others – in a donuts-and-transparency environment that has a Bible in the middle of the 12 Steps, and teeth in the relationships. But, there’s a powerful overriding reality: we’re all in an Accountability Group. It’s called “humanity,” and we’ve all been summoned: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27) Death is simply a transition on the way to the next appointment…
For the person who knows the Bethlehem Baby and received a gift from Him (see Ephesians 2:8-9), that appointment is all about accountability: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad…” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
You better watch out…