The church tends to latch onto certain buzz words. One that has sprung up in my life time is accountability. The need to be accountable is almost beaten into us through various conferences, Bible reading notes and churches. Small groups are created to foster this level of relationship. But I’m worried. I’m worried that the buzzword has become more important than acceptance and relationship.
Some might say that relationship can grow through accountability and I’m sure a form of it can, but for me I’ve always struggled, struggled because I’ve felt the pressure “to be accountable” – but not had the relationships (within the church at least) to the level that I would feel comfortable sharing all that I would need to share.
Accountability seems so robotic; and cold that it holds almost no attraction to me. Why would I want a performance review on my personality? I’m not saying that I don’t want people in my life who tell me to wind my neck in, but for it to have any sort of power I need them to know me, really know me. I need them to have a friendship with me that is at least as good as my friendships with those who don’t share my beliefs. I need to know that if I choose to share my deepest struggles with them, they are not going to add to my guilt or make me feel more ashamed than I already do. I don’t want them to ask “How are you doing with that?” every time I see them, and cross it off their to do list.
In short I need to know I am accepted first, I need to know that this person is not going to change their relationship with me because of what I tell them. I do not need a professional Christian but a fellow sinner trying to do their best. Someone who knows what it is like to feel guilty about something one moment and then repeat the same mistake the next. I don’t think I want to be a part of a church that asks “Who are you accountable to?” but instead one that asks “Who are your friends?”
When I look at the life of Jesus I don’t see a guy whose first thought was ‘I wonder if she drank too much last night.’ or ‘I better check when he last looked at porn.’ I see someone who reclined with those the religious rejected as beneath them, someone who gave honour and respect to those society degraded. If I went for a pint with Jesus tomorrow, I think he would ask how I was, not what mistakes I’d made recently.
Perhaps if we promoted acceptance, grace and relationship we would find that we don’t need to promote accountability so aggressively because it’s happening in a way we could never have imagined.