Critique my Sermon on Accountability

sharing_the_loadDo  freely give me feedback on my sermon which I will preach extemporaneously tomorrow: A is for Accountability. The four parts of the sermon are:

  1. Why it’s important: sin deceives and traps all of us without exception.
  2. How to do it: humbly and gently with the Spirit’s help.
  3. What not to do: being conceited and thinking we are better than others.
  4. Who did it best: Only Jesus was perfectly accountable.

Everyone needs to be accountable, even top leaders. Using the account of Nathan confronting David (2 Sam 12:1-14) and Paul rebuking Peter (Gal 2:11-14), my thesis is that two most prominent leaders–one in the OT (King David) and one in the NT (the apostle Peter)–were caught in sin and needed to be held accountable and restored. It does not matter if one is a new Christian or a top leader in the church, everyone needs someone to be accountable to. I hope to encourage my congregation to seek out someone they trust to be accountable to and to be accountable to others. The two questions I pose are:

  1. Do you have a Nathan?
  2. Are you a Nathan to others?

Shame or selfishness. We might be reluctant to seek out an accountability partner because of shame of confessing our sins and shortcomings, or a reluctance to expose our own dirty laundry. We might also be reluctant to be accountable for others because of selfishness. But our lives will surely be enriched when we have someone to be accountable to and for.

There is only One who was perfectly accountable. Ultimately we all fail being accountable to God and to others because of our shame and selfishness. But there is One who was accountable to God and to others…unto death. He was perfectly accountable to God and to us at the cost of his life. When we realize this and to the degree that we understand this, we too will be compelled to be accountable to God and to others.

Do you have someone you are accountable to and for?

26 comments

  1. Joe Schafer

    Ben, accountability is necessary. But in an unhealthy church environment, people are wary of it for good reason.

    Those who take the bold step of confessing personal sin to a church member, leader or pastor can find themselves getting screwed in one way or another. They become the subject of gossip, and people seize upon that moment of vulnerability to advance their own agendas — by exerting pressure to extract desired behavior, by turning the person into an object lesson, and so on. The founder of UBF did that on a regular basis.

    Churches with long established traditions may know how to do it better. For example, Roman Catholic priests have very explicit training and rules that must be followed to make the confessional a safe zone for the penitent to work out the implications of their sin. Priests who hear confessions are sworn to strict confidentiality; they cannot reveal what was said to them under any circumstances, not even under threat of imprisonment or death.

    Evangelical church communities (in my experience) have no such rules and are notoriously unsafe. In UBF, if you confess something, it can spread through the gossip network at the speed of light.

    I don’t think people should be hearing the confessions of one another until they understand the pitfalls and create necessary safeguards. Otherwise the environment can get pretty toxic, pretty fast. Bonhoeffer’s Life Together is a great resource for this.

    I shared this concern with another pastor who admitted that it was true. He responded with a saying: “Don’t bleed around sharks.” There are lots and lots of sharks around, especially in certain UBF chapters. Beware.

  2. So true, Joe!! The misuse and failure of accountability, I think, is when it is one way (from the member to the leader, and especially if the leader thinks they are superior and better than everyone else).

    I would personally be very hesitant and leery to confess sin to someone who thinks he/she does not need to be accountable to anyone else. I would also never recommend that anyone else confess sin to someone who refuses to be accountable to others.

    When I encouraged those I met in Philippines UBF to seek accountability from one another in love and trust, I thought the response was quite genuine and sincere.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, I’m sure your message was received in the Philippines in all sincerity. Just as, in the early days of UBF, many were very sincerely sharing their honest struggles in their sogams and they trusted one another. But over time, because there were no safeguards in place, abuse happened and trust was broken. Now, in many places, the testimony sharing is no longer authentic. People smile and pretend everything is fine, or they just share safe sins but don’t bring up the real issues. People don’t reveal themselves because they are afraid to do so, for good reason. That could eventually happen in the Philippines too. And it probably will, if the leaders do not think ahead to anticipate the problems.

    • For sure, Joe, misuse and abuse will sadly invariably occur. Yet I think that healthy accountability promotes humility, trust and vulnerability which works on both parties, because the one helping the sinner is no better (Gal 6:1). If the one helping the sinner thinks they are comparatively better, then God have mercy.

    • Joe Schafer

      “I would personally be very hesitant and leery to confess sin to someone who thinks he/she does not need to be accountable to anyone else. I would also never recommend that anyone else confess sin to someone who refuses to be accountable to others. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/10/critique-my-sermon-on-accountability/#comment-13554

      To that I would add: I wouldn’t confess sin even to sincere, good people unless they are mature enough to know what to do and not do with that information.

  3. Ben, what you’ve summarized here falls to the ground like a lead balloon. How is anything you’ve said here different from the typical, shepherd/sheep accountability structure promoted by heritage ubf?

    I read your full sermon notes on your Westloop page– those notes are much better, but still lacks the explicit gospel message tone I look for.

    What bothers me is your weak presentation of this question: “Why is accountability crucially important for every Christian?” Your emphasis on accountability comes across to me as hinting at the hamster wheel gospel. If the “gospel” is an endless cycle of sin/repent/sin/repent, then accountability is of utmost importance. But is accountability SO important if we understand the gospel correctly (As I know you do)?

    I know you understand the gospel way better than this summary shows Ben but I simply don’t hear it. I’m sure your intentions are gospel-rooted but either my ears are clogged or the gospel isn’t shining through.

    I don’t have any solution, but I’ll think through this more to share my thoughts.

  4. Thanks, BK. Great question: “How is anything you’ve said here different from the typical, shepherd/sheep accountability structure promoted by heritage ubf?” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/10/critique-my-sermon-on-accountability/#comment-13548

    In my response to Joe, I wrote: “The misuse and failure of accountability, I think, is when it is one way (from the member to the leader, and especially if the leader thinks they are superior and better than everyone else). I would personally be very hesitant and leery to confess sin to someone who thinks he/she does not need to be accountable to anyone else. I would also never recommend that anyone else confess sin to someone who refuses to be accountable to others.”
    – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/10/critique-my-sermon-on-accountability/#comment-13548

    I thought that the Nathan/David, Paul/Peter accountability suggests a need for even top leaders to be accountable to someone.

    The accountability is not so much for sin management but for intimacy with the Presence of the triune God.

    Regarding the gospel, my conclusion is that only Christ was perfectly accountable even for us who refuse to be accountable to God and to others.

    • “The accountability is not so much for sin management but for intimacy with the Presence of the triune God”

      Now you’re talking! I think we should consider also the end result of all things– where we will all be accountable to God. That frees me from the need to hold ubf accountable all the time.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, you wrote:

      “Regarding the gospel, my conclusion is that only Christ was perfectly accountable even for us who refuse to be accountable to God and to others.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/10/critique-my-sermon-on-accountability/#more-7870

      That statement is about the finished work of Christ regarding our justification. It’s about what happened in the past. What Brian is pointing out, rightly in my opinion, is that in talking about accountability, you seem to have left the gospel behind and reverted back to practical arguments, to following the good examples of Nathan/David, Peter/Paul, and so on.

      Confession is a “sacrament” in the sense that, through this practice, the grace and forgiveness of Jesus becomes tangible. It brings the past work of Jesus forward into our present reality. The church, the body of Christ, has to do the work of Christ by making his gospel of forgiveness very tangible and real. Jesus basically told us that we are responsible for carrying his forgiveness into the world (John 20:21-23). Church communities cannot do this unless they are permeated with grace, not legalism or manipulation or judgmentalism or peer pressure. The ability to convey the grace of forgiveness into the present time is a collective thing, a social thing, as much as an individual one.

  5. Ben,

    Here are my initial thoughts, based on the whole chapter of 1 Peter 5:1-14 that you referenced in the first part. I have some more A words for consideration.

    1. Appeal. Peter begins this passage with an appeal. I think when we talk about accountability we should talk about the value of appealing to someone, rather than demanding accountability from someone.

    2. Authority. Whose authority are we talking about when we talk about accountability toward one another? Christians really need to be clear about the authority of the Chief Shepherd. Peter immediately reminds us of our first Authority– Jesus. We need a heavy does of the kingdom of God gospel aspect if we are going to talk about accountability. I think that is mainly what I’m not hearing in your notes.

    3. Anxiety. Peter was an expert in the feeling of anxiety. He clearly says: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” When we make ourselves accountable to someone, we should consider our feelings as a gauge of how healthy that accountability is. Do I feel free of anxiety because of my accountability? I felt so oppressed by the accountability required by ubf missionaries. Their accountability produced anxiety in me constantly. That was a red flag that the accountability structure I had submitted to was harmful and wrong. Which leads me to my next A word.

    4. Alertness. Peter says to be alert. Yes indeed we need to be alert in regard to “satan”. But more importantly we need to be teaching people how to be alert to the damaging aspects of accountability gone wrong, such as how to recognized spiritual abuse, etc. My second book gives many tools for doing just that. We need to be on-guard, protecting out heart, mind and soul.

    5. Autonomy. Do we respect a person’s autonomy? How does this fit into accountability? We need to be awake and watching to see if someone is “jumping the fence” to get into my life. If we are to have Christian accountability we must trust people, trust the Spirit’s work in that person and enter the person’s life only through the “front gate”, the proper way. In that we we show we are not hired hands, but real shepherds, real human beings who respect the autonomy and humanity of each person we encounter. Autonomy and respect go a long way to building relationships that can offer the kind of accountability you describe Ben.

    Finally I think it would be wise to continually delve into these questions:

    Why do we hold someone accountable? For what purpose?

    Why do we allow ourselves to be accountable? Why am I doing that?

  6. Great comments, Joe, Brian. I’m really enjoying reading them, and hopefully learning and digesting them. Since I preach extemporaneously, I think that what you comment will surface in my preaching, even if it is not well expressed in my write up, which is primarily a quotation of verses.

    Am I wrong to suggest that our negatives perspectives regarding accountability have primarily to do with our negative experiences with the hierarchical authoritarian (control in the name of) shepherding that we all encountered to varying degrees? I think I can quite categorically say that what the both of you experienced is quite definitely worse than what I have ever experienced.

    My primary text is Gal 6:1-5, which may be the practical application that follows Paul’s exposition of the gospel in the earlier chapters of Galatians. Accountability (and good Christ-like non-authoritarian, abusive shepherding) requires/involves:

    1. gentle restoration (not dead dog training) (Gal 6:1a).

    2. shepherd not just correcting sheep but watching themselves humility and tears, realizing one’s own weaknesses and vulnerability (Gal 6:1b).

    3. carrying each other’s burdens, not giving them all sorts of requirements for discipleship (daily bread, testimony writing, fishing on campus, never missing meetings, etc) (Gal 6:2a).

    4. fulfilling the law of Christ, which is love (Gal 6:2b).

    5. the shepherd does not deceive thinking that they are something when they are nothing (Gal 6:3).

    6. testing one’s own actions without comparing with others (Gal 6:4), while I am very sorry to say that we were encouraged to increase the number and compete with each other for decades!

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, it’s hard for me to digest all these points. I’m not a big fan of lists, because it’s hard for me to keep multiple thoughts in mind at the same time.

      If I could boil it down to just one main point, this would be it. If someone begins to confess their sins to you, take off your shoes, because you are on holy ground. Realize that you are being brought into an intimacy of relationship between that person and God. This is not a time for you to give advice. It’s not a time to play the role of guru or try to train them. Your job is to stop talking, listen, pray, enter into their repentance and then become a vehicle through which God conveys forgiveness. That’s all. Then go away and shut up about it.

      Ben, you might not remember all the times that SL decided you need to be trained based on his assessment of your sin, or based on something that you confessed. But that happened numerous times. That could have done a lot more damage than you realize or remember. Perhaps to an extent God protected you from harm. But real harm is done whenever a spiritual guide lords it over someone. And you were lorded over for a very long time.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Joe, can you elaborate more on the prayer you mentioned, when you said, “Your job is to stop talking, listen, pray, enter into their repentance and then become a vehicle through which God conveys forgiveness. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/10/critique-my-sermon-on-accountability/#comments

      Several questions came to mind. By what kind of prayer can we enter into the repentance of someone confessing their sins? Is it like Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:4-10? Or is it like what James said in James 5:13-16? If it is like James’s suggestion on confession and prayer, would you be praying for a person rather than with a person? In what way would you pray for them? The healing of their physical sickness? Even forgiveness seems to be predicated on the prayer of a righteous person praying for them.

      I have had trouble confessing sins except to only those who are closest to me. I grew up in the catholic church, but confession resulted in being dictated how I should pray for me, including which prayers and how many times in a row to pray them. In UBF, the public confession of sins at a Friday testimony sharing meeting was at first very impressive. I had never seen young people earnestly confessing sins and trying to know and obey the Bible. But when it was my turn to confess, I felt betrayed too often and mischaracterized, although few people talked to me and tried to understand me. There were many in the room who had never talked to me.

    • Joe Schafer

      Charles, these are awesome questions that go not only to heart of what it means to pray, but what it means to have a Trinitarian understanding of God. I will try to elaborate later this week. But I can’t do it just yet.

      Anyone else out there: If you understood what I meant, please jump in and elaborate.

    • Perhaps the notion of “entering into another’s repentance” has to do with the collective nature of the body of Christ. What I mean is that, all believers comprise the organic body of Christ, who is the head, so in some sense we, by nature, all share in each other’s lives (1 Cor 12:26). But in another sense, this has to be done conscientiously.

      Let me try to flesh this out a bit by going from a theoretical framework to a practical application.

      In the trinity, there exists perfect love, transparency, etc. between all memebers. For human redemption, the Father sends the Son, who through his death draws all, whom God has adopted as children, to himself. The Son also sends the Spirit in order to indwell all believers, thus in a sense pulling them into the trinity (not that we are divine, but we do share deeply in this relationship in some sense). Believers are now on this trajectory to fully apprehend all of who this triune God is. This life is an ongoing paradigm shift (repentance) of the collective body of Christ; though we each share vastly different experiences, we are all together turning toward and grasping more and more of the triune God.

      Practically, this means that true repentance cannot be coerced or forced by other body members. Rather out of love and a desire for more of God, we are compelled to, in a Spirit-led manner, help one another draw closer to Him. We do this in a gracious manner which recognizes that God designed the body in such a way that we are called to depend on one another to successfully turn toward him; it’s as though he is teaching us trinitatian ethics while we are being drawn further into the actual trinity. And I would submit that if we are involved in such an interprise, i.e. encountering the triune God of the universe, then we should tread lightly. Furthermore it makes no sense whatsoever to judge or gossip about each other’s shortcomings because that directly undercuts the progress of the body’s movement towards God. And it goes without saying that such actions are just not Trinitarian.

      Thus I think that Joe’s comment about “entering in” has to do with this feature of the Trinitarian nature of our existence in God in which joy, pain, knowledge, etc. are all shared. In this life, God compels us to live this out in order that we may progressively enter into the fullness of His trinitarian presence, which by nature is love.

  7. “Why do we hold someone accountable? For what purpose?” Being accountable to others, I believe is primarily an expression of love and care for that person, like a parent who wants to help their child who is crying or hurt.

    “Why do we allow ourselves to be accountable? Why am I doing that?”
    – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/10/critique-my-sermon-on-accountability/#comment-13558

    I think that sin is deceitful (Jer 17:9) and all consuming (Gen 6:5). Our enemy is formidable (1 Pet 5:8; Gen 4:7). We have blind spots that others can see in us which we are unable to see (Mt 7:3; Prov 14:12).

    For sure this can be done abusively with a sense of control and authority over others, which is not how Nathan rebuked David, nor how Paul confronted Peter.

    Ultimately, God’s call for me to be accountable to Him was never a threat, intimidation or a guilt-trip, but a loving unconditional expression of his Son dying for me.

    So I think that a gospel-saturated call for accountability should ultimately be a communication and expression of the grace of God, and NOT a rule, law or code that must be followed.

  8. “…real harm is done whenever a spiritual guide lords it over someone.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/10/critique-my-sermon-on-accountability/#comment-13560

    Joe, you might be right that I may be more wounded than I realize since I was “under” SL for the last 22 years of his life.

    So I decided to ask my TruthMeter about whether or not she thinks I’m wounded. She responded spontaneously, “Nooooo! You had your b_tt kissed by SL and so many others. You could do no wrong. It’s always the wife’s fault.” Well, that’s the TruthMeter speaking. That’s why I love her to death!

  9. Wow, I saw this post 15 minutes ago and I was so excited to comment and when I came back here is this explosion of dialogue!

    I think that one reason why people are intimidated about posting here is because the dialogue moves so quickly and often the comments are very articulate. Anyway, that’s not something that should be remedied, just sayin’.

    So I totally agree with the comments about the Trinitarian origin of accountability. If we are truly in union with the triune God then we will possess a genuine desire for increasingly intimate relationships. Being accountable to one another gives us greater depth, transparency, shared consciousness and experiences and some other good stuff I can’t think of right now. All of this sharedness, so to speak, is a prime feature of our new reality in our union with God. If our ultimate reality of being in God and he in us is approaching then we should be compelled by him to grow into this as time passes in this life.

    The problem is that because of the fall, we shy away from this kind of intimacy and sometimes for good reason as you all have already pointed out. The only way that we can overcome this is by coming to a profound realization of the Trinitarian/communal reality that we have entered into through Christ’s work. This takes time in meditating on the scriptures, contemplation, dialogue within the community, sincere confession of misgivings and practicing acts of mutual love toward one another. Ultimately we have to realize that we are in this together and will be so for all of eternity; Christian life is not a competition between members in the body.

    Because this is a topic which relates to the penultimate characterization of God, we could also follow its trajectory through scripture in a christotelic fashion (?). Genesis 2 displays full-ish transparency in marriage relationship (glorification was not a reality yet); foreshadow of christ and the church. Genesis 3 is transparency lost but promise of One who would restore intimacy in relationships. Only Moses could commune deeply with God and was an intercessor; foreshadow of Christ the mediator. Nathan and the other OT prophets were foreshadows of the nature of full disclosure in the new covenant; prophecy reveals God’s intentions, motives of men’s hearts as well as their seemingly inconspicuous actions. John the Baptist is a key figure in the new revelatory work that God was doing in uncovering the sinful motives of people as well as their desire for him so much so that people repented publicly in droves. Christ divulged full revelation of OT passages through his fulfillment of them. NT apostles and prophets begin new community of Christ’s followers; a community marked by transparent relationships against the backdrop of the cross as well as mystical union with God through the Holy Spirit in all believers. Eventually we will “fully know as we are fully known by God.” (1 Cor 13:12) upon Christ’s return or re-revealing.

    Dr. Ben, I would also share your own personal experience of becoming a more transparent person. You used to frequently boast that no one could ever train you except for God. You also now speak candidly about your pastoral misgivings in this particular light. Surely it was difficult to grow into healthy relationships with others due to this. What personal change did you undergoso that you now fully champion accountability? Explaining this might speak volumes above a sermon which merely says that other people should participate in such a thing.

    • “Wow, I saw this post 15 minutes ago and I was so excited to comment and when I came back here is this explosion of dialogue!”

      Yes we move at normal American English speed. I found that I can process massive amounts of information, both reading and writing after throwing of my konglish, Korean-appeasing, ubf “Shepherd Brian” cult identity.

    • Joe Schafer

      David, another fantastic comment. You are really getting this Trinitarian understanding of the gospel and the church. In my opinion, this is the kind of gospeling that evangelical Christians need to hear. Over the years, I had gotten so burned out on the legal / penal substitution stuff that I had no point of reference to know how to actually live as a Christian in community with God and other people. Starting to see the gospel in these terms rejuvenated my faith. Your line of reasoning here would make an excellent framework for a message.

      Where and how did you learn to think this way?

    • Thanks, Joe. It took me a while to respond to your question because I was trying to recall exactly how my thoughts and beliefs concerning this topic evolved.

      In contrast to your experience with the standard evangelical S.A. framework, I was quite satisfied in this regard. I think that I mentioned this before, but Stott’s Cross of Christ impacted me deeply by drawing me into a deeper appreciation of the atonement. The idea of everything in creation revolving around the cross, actually pulled me away from myself and into God’s overall redemptive story. Specifically, it helped me to frame my relationships within the body in a more mercy-centered and realistic view; at the end of the day, we all share in the divine nature, as Peter puts it, through the undeserved mercy of Christ who relinquished his life upon the cross. Christ utterly silences any one-upsmans-ship we think that we possess over one another.

      While I still cherish aspects of S.A., to be honest, when I hear it in preaching, it often feels as though it is forced into the text. And that is standard evangelical fair which never ceases to put me to sleep in the pew. This is unfortunate because it is such a rich doctrine (that is, until I’m fully convinced of N.T. Wright’s perspective) that when coupled with the Trinitarian aspect of scripture, it has the potential to do some massively good damage.

      So soon after reading Stott (about six years ago), I became acquainted with Driscoll’s doctrine series which he created for his own church. Say what you will about the man, but he has produced some quality stuff over the years. Anyway, the first lesson was on the doctrine of the trinity. From this, I made a document for some students in the ministry who we were going through this series with. It could probably use some revision by now, but it has its good points: https://www.dropbox.com/s/k788z4g0j5w9xpz/trinitarian_life.doc

      Over the years, while I haven’t read any serious tomes or what have you on the trinity (though I plan to), what I do know about it has been a guiding paradigm in my practical life and also one of the few, key lenses through which I view and understand scripture. These days, I am so enthralled with looking at scripture in this light because the concept of the trinity is like the perfect cipher; it simply makes sense of scripture in a way that is not forced but rather fits very nicely into the progressive revelation that is scripture.

      One particular thing that has further refined my view of the triune God’s work throughout scripture is the notion of interpreting scripture in a christotelic fashion. Christ is the key to rightly encountering the triune God, therefore it makes sense that scripture is primarily concerned with revealing who he is. I want to start reading some of Peter Enn’s work on this. He wrote a journal paper on this which I want to get to at some point: https://www.dropbox.com/s/eyfrm7luc6ip2mx/AposExegWTJ-fall%2003-final.pdf

      He is basically stating his case for a view on a christotelic hermeneutic he believed that the apostles and other NT writers espoused. He fleshes this out in greater detail in his book “Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament” (which I also have yet to read). Rachel Held Evans did a nice series on his book some time ago. And we’ll see, maybe I will render what I wrote earlier into a sermon, when time permits.

  10. Dave, I wouldn’t say that I “now fully champion accountability,” but that I think it is practically helpful and beneficial to willing participants. It is definitely not a non-negotiable imperative that is going to be forced upon anyone at WL. It is NOT remotely like a “shepherd/sheep relationship,” that we are all familiar with. I wrote previously about a possible reason (among others) as to why UBF leadership might loose credibility if they refuse to be accountable to her members: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/05/23/are-ubf-chapter-directorsmissionaries-accountable/

    Did I “used to frequently boast that no one could ever train me except for God”? I must have. It’s in line with my Dirty Harry persona. But I don’t quite remember (probably with the age, which is a good thing!).

    But reading and studying about the Trinity has helped me to realize that relationships and friendships are key to God and a happy life. In encouraging accountability, it is primarily for the sake of improving our friendships and relationships, and NOT to pick at each others sins.

    At WL I have stated often that I am accountable to our elders and to anyone who comes, since we are a small church. Everyone is welcome to critique my extemporaneous preaching, or anything else they wish to critique or discuss. This, I found, helps me to be friends with everyone (and not just be regarded as the “senior pastor,” which really sounds old and aloof).

    At UBFriends, I love the critiques that “tear apart” my written sermon :-) I might be a very slow learner, but I have found them helpful in that it brings forth fresh perspectives that I did not see or think about.

    At home, which is perhaps my most important place and space, I tremble before my better half, who always speaks truthfully, lovingly and forthrightly (even when she is mad). Her “best” recent comment was a few months ago when we were arguing about something that I don’t even remember and she said, “If you are this way, I can never ever listen to anything you preach on Sun!” Whoa, that’s heavy duty, and that’s good!

    • Thanks, dr. Ben for taking this in stride. I’ve been greatly informed and encouraged by our prior discussions about the gospel and the trinity. I asked my better half about your training statement and she said that it was actually, “only God and Samuel Lee can train me!” :)

      You know, regarding accountability, I think that we can make a biblical case for its necessity not just from the trinity but also by taking a sobering look at Israel’s history (1 Cor 10:6). There was no other king before or after David who displayed the degree of transparency as seen in his psalms. He made many grievous mistakes, yet his heart remained an open book before God. (Perhaps this openness is what Paul had in mind in Ephesians 5:19.) In contrast, there were many kings who did not consent to accountability before God or the real prophets and priests. They ended up assenting to the murder or removal of both and thus Israel fell into obscurity, subjugation and nearly destruction.

  11. After reading and considering all of your very helpful comments, this is what I added to my write up (http://westloop-church.org/index.php/messages/new-testament/27-galatians/362-accountability):

    Warning about the misuse and abuse of accountability: As I have often done this year, I asked for feedback and critique of my sermon before I preach extemporaneously on Sun. I was warned about how easily accountability can and has been misused and abused. For instance:

    * We should be very prayerful and careful about who we confess our sins to, because an immature or unwise person might misuse what is shared with them.
    * Without realizing it, we might be controlling and manipulating others to do what we want and expect, all in the name of love, shepherding or even accountability.

    This is true. Things fall apart. Things that were once good become bad. Things that were once fresh and new become old and tired. Things that were once inspiring and encouraging becomes oppressive and discouraging. May we keep this in mind if and when we seek to be accountable to others and for others.

  12. I just thought of this:

    Accountability (as a Nathan to others) says, “I’m here for you,” not “Let me fix you up.”

    Accountability (to a Nathan) says, “Understand and help me gently,” not necessarily “Train and humble me.”

    Thanks Dave for sharing Driscoll’s trinitarian life, which I find useful and helpful. In view of the trinity I’d say, “A trinitarian marriage (or friendship or church) is heaven while non-trinitarian relationships are hell.”

    • Dr. Ben, Nathan’s example is a valid foreshadow of the type of prophetic activity that would help to build the early church (Acts 21:10-11). My opinion is that his particular way of revealing David’s sin provides us with a veritable example, among others, of how to confront others with their respective sin. He used an allegory about shepherding, something which would particularly resonate with David. He knew and understood a key part of David’s history, that is, how deeply he was affected by his time as a shepherd; he grew in character and encountered God in that setting, which explains the strong imagery in Psalm 23. Nathan’s allegory stirred up pathos and indignation in David’s heart. After creating an image which David would utterly despised, Nathan in a sense turned the image toward David, allowing him to realize that it was his own reflection in the allegorical mirror.

      This gives me some idea about how members in the body can confront each other in a way which uncovers sin and leads them to Christ. We must become deeply involved in each other’s lives; we can’t suffice with being mere coworkers. Relationships in which we understand the deep agonies as well as the key times of transformation of each body member are vital. Sometimes, when confronting another with their sin, I find it helpful to use my own life experience as a sort of allegory; I may speak of my own shortcomings or what have you. This must be done with great care because we don’t want to coerce repentance or contrition. But it’s necessary to share in each other’s lives in order to engender an authentic environment of openness and willingness to come into the light of God’s truth. These are my messy and unrefined thoughts on this subject thus far. And I like your soliloquy :)