Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Accountability, Christian Friendships, and Holiness that Transcends Behavior

Perhaps fueled by the Sonship movement that was prevalent in the PCA in the 80's and 90's, for a long time it was stressed that Christian men needed accountable friendships --another man to whom they could confess anything, and who would hold them accountable for doing the right thing.

Let me state from the first that I think this is a good thing, albeit a difficult one. Men seem to have difficulty forming fast and intimate friendships, particularly in this age when people move about so much. My closest friends are men I rarely see face to face. I don't like this one bit, but it is the way it is.

Yet, as with everything else, we need to make sure we don't confuse a good thing with being the only thing. A man may successfully avoid the pitfalls of lust and greed and the destruction to which they might lead, may treat his wife and children self-sacrificingly well, and may be a generous tither and a devoted churchman and have regular times of study and prayer and still fall far short of godly manhood.

Far too often we have confused holiness with mere behavior: doing and not doing. Yet, Scripture is filled with warnings about doing without being. What do I mean? The fruits of the spirit are not concrete "doing" things --they can't be defined by an accountability list. How are you doing at the love thing? What about the kindness thing? These are matters of the heart. 1 Cor 13 says we can even give our body to be burned (doing in the extreme) and have it all be in vain because of lovelessness (a being thing).

The Christian life is not an easy thing, and accountability is certainly a useful tool towards holiness. It is not, however, the magic pill. No created thing is. This ought to cause us to rely more upon existential connection with the Holy Spirit, who alone can work his true fruits in our lives.

1 comment:

  1. You and Russell Moore are thinking along the same lines - Moore said while speaking at the "Connecting Church and Home" conference last week, "We unify around the things that unify us in the flesh rather than being unified together in those things that unify us in the spirit."