The Right Kind of Accountability
Back in February, Tullian Tchividjian put up a couple posts on his regular blog over at The Gospel Coalition related to the downside of a specific kind of accountability among Christians. Of course, we need accountability: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God” (Heb.3:12). “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal.6:1-2).
However, his posts shine a helpful light on the subtle dangers of a kind of accountability that strokes our penchant for moralism and self-righteousness. It’s a kind of accountability that points to self and ends with self, rather than the finished work of our amazing Savior. As our initial start-up season of Small Groups at CRC comes to an end in the next couple weeks, and as we’ve hoped for deepening biblical fellowship to result, Tchividjian’s posts are solid gospel-centered supplements to our reading and discussion so far.
Read the full posts at Tchividjian’s blog:
Reminders Are More Effective Than Rebukes
More On “Accountability Groups”
Here are some excerpts:
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in ‘accountability groups’ where there has been little to no attention given to the gospel whatsoever. There’s no reminder of what Christ has done for our sin–‘cleansing us from its guilt and power’–and the resources that are already ours by virtue of our union with him. These groups produce a “do more, try harder” moralism that robs us of the joy and freedom Jesus paid dearly to secure for us. They start with the narcissistic presupposition that Christianity is all about cleaning up and getting better–it’s all about personal improvement. But it’s not! When the goal becomes conquering our sin instead of soaking in the conquest of our Savior, we actually begin to shrink spiritually...
“To be sure, we are called to “mortify the flesh”...But–and this is the point–our holiness is NOT what Christianity is all about! If it were, I and every other sinner out there would be in big, hopeless trouble. Christianity is not first about our getting better... It’s first about Jesus! It’s about his person and subsitutionary work–his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, session, and promised return...
“The accountability I need, therefore, is the kind that corrects my natural tendency to focus on me–my obedience (or lack thereof), my performance (good or bad), my holiness–instead of on Christ and his obedience, performance, and holiness for me. We all possess a natural proclivity to turn God’s good news announcement that we’ve been set free into a narcissistic program of self-improvement. We need to be held accountable for that (grin)!...
“Christian growth, in other words, does not happen first by behaving better, but believing better–believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners... The bottom line is this, Christian: because of Christ’s work on your behalf, God does not dwell on your sin the way you do. So, relax and rejoice…and you’ll actually start to get better. The irony, of course, is that it’s only when we stop obsessing over our own need to be holy and focus instead on the beauty of Christ’s holiness, that we actually become more holy! Not to mention, we start to become a lot easier to live with!”
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