I recently attended a great Young Adult Getaway hosted by the Church of God General Conference. Around 60 (somewhat) young adults got together and had a great time fellowshipping with one another, learning about God, and worshipping God together. The theme for the weekend was “Find Your People” based on a book by Jennie Allen. Especially after living through the social changes brought about by social media and the pandemic, we probably can all relate to feeling both more socially connected and socially isolated than ever before. I can spend hours scrolling to see the engagement and pregnancy announcements from people I went to high school with (that I haven’t seen or spoken to in years), but I don’t feel like I have time to deeply connect with my present-day family and friends. The getaway focused on how we can connect with people – which is an essential yet often overlooked part of the Christian faith.
While we were there, I spoke about one uncomfortable aspect of connecting with others in a Christian context: holding others accountable. When we first become a Christian, we may think that our fellowship with others is all based on the love we show each other… which is actually true. But, early on in our walk with Christ, our idea of love is based on what we see in movies and TV shows. Love supports each other no matter what. It speaks encouragement (only) and never criticism. It does not judge. Love never makes the other person feel bad. So, we think, based on this understanding of love, that our Christian relationships should follow the same blueprint, but this is not the case.
Our understanding of what love is changes when we become a Christian. Jesus did say, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). But, at the same time our idea of love has changed. John later says in 1 John 4: 10-12, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Love becomes much more about self sacrifice than mindless tolerance, much more about spurring each other on than accepting where we are currently at.
Paul recognizes this. As I’ve read through his letters, a common Pauline trait has stood out to me; he is a master at accountability. In his letters, he is constantly calling his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to higher standards and encouraging them to hold fast to the standard set before them in Christ. This is especially true in his letters to the Corinthians. In today’s reading, we see Paul continue to do this. He tells them, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (v. 1). But, he doesn’t say this because he dislikes the Corinthians in any way. Instead he tells them later on, “I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you.” (v. 3-4a). Paul deeply cares about the Corinthian church, which is why it is so important to him that they live right in the eyes of God.
We also are called to live right and hold others accountable. How are you spurring others on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24) today?
~ Cayce Fletcher
Questions for Application:
- Do you feel more connected or more isolated when you think about your everyday life? Who are ‘your people’ that you live close by that can spur you on in the faith?
- Have you ever experienced accountability (whether it was you holding someone accountable or someone else holding you accountable)? What was that experience like?
- How does accountability strengthen our Christian walk?