“The day I realized that I could not tell my congregation that I was hurting, was the day I realized I built an institution around myself rather than a family in Christ. If I couldn’t be open and honest, why would anyone else be?” — Ex Mega Church Pastor.
For many years of my Christian walk, I struggled with pornography. I did all the great things that I was told to do, in terms of removing the internet, and not feeding the habit and all that jazz. This behavior modification would result in periods of freedom, but with no real lasting results.
I remember one of techniques I used, to try and bring myself to a higher standard, was an accountability program, where I would list three individuals that would get a weekly report about any inappropriate videos or websites I had visited in that period. For those who are familiar with these programs and have struggled with addictions, you know it doesn’t take long to find creative ways around them. Needless to say, I found ways.
My story is really centered on one brother in particular who shared my struggles. He was one of the few people I was able to be honest and real with about my addiction, and we would speak very openly and honestly about things. When it came time to install this program (the accountability program), he was one of the people I listed to receive my weekly email report. But something very strange happened in our relationship when he started reading my reports. Where once we could be open and transparent about our situation, for some reason, I found myself trying to avoid him over the same subject matter that just weeks before we had no problem discussing.
After I came to the realization of the New Covenant, I recognized what it is that happened. Accountability is good, and it’s healthy when it is done in a New Covenant setting. Unfortunately, what most of us call accountability is nothing more than a product of the Law, and it takes our best friends and turns them into law enforcers to some degree. We set the standard, in my case, I’m not going to watch porn, which is a law unto myself, then I ask my best friend to hold me to it. Our relationship suffered as a result of my failures, I no longer wanted to see my friend and have to deal with the very thing I asked him to do for me. I got rid of the program and something very unusual happened, our friendship was restored, and we were open and honest without the program.
Accountability regarding behavior is a product of Law that takes our best friend and uses them against us. We tell other people our expectations we set for ourselves, and then ask them to hold us to it and soon enough under the weight of sin-consciousness, guilt and shame, we can learn to resent the very people that we love, all the while, the issue goes unresolved. As any of us know, if sin could be solved with the right external forces, and internal mental gymnastics, Jesus would not have had to come and die on a cross to make us into new creations.
As I constantly remind people, sin can never be solved by anything that you are trying to do enough of, that includes imposing self-willed laws upon yourself trying not to sin. Sin can only be solved by trusting in a redemptive act of God, and believing in what Jesus says is true about you. It was when I stopped trying to manage sin, and even confessed to God that I didn’t want to give up my sin, that His grace was set free to work, and I found myself free a few weeks later without trying but from trusting.
So what is New Covenant Accountability? It is that same relationship I had with my friend, before I installed the program. A friendship based entirely in Grace, without self-imposed expectation. A relationship where the worst about myself could be known and shared with someone I trusted, knowing I would not be judged, but rather they would demonstrate grace towards me by protecting my weaknesses from those who would seek to abuse it.
It is when we freely share the worst about ourselves with someone else we trust, that the other person is given an opportunity to love us back; because we have given them something real about ourselves that they are now entrusted with, and their care of it becomes a demonstration of their love towards us. In the words of John Lynch, If we had an environment where the worst about us could be known and we will be loved more not less, our unresolved issues would start to fade away, and we would probably start to sin less. I pray someday we can find that in the fellowship in the body of Christ.
John Lynch talking about the effects of Moralistic Piety.