Don't go it alone
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received
Sometimes life is a piece of cake. Other times it feels more like a kick in the balls.
However we may be feeling, we are called to live in a particular way.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, has this to say:
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
I am dead-certain that I want to get better at living the godly life
But I'll tell you what... there are some people I find it very hard to bear with! Sometimes I find it hard to be patient. I'm really not that humble and I rarely make every effort... because I'm mega-lazy. However, I am dead-certain that I want to get better at living the godly life. It might be a battle a lot of the time, but I take seriously the call God has put on my life (see Matthew 28:16-20 for a little reminder) and I want to honour Him because of all that He has given me.
It's worth pointing out that we do not need to live a particular way to be accepted by God. Scripture makes it pretty clear that our salvation has nothing to do with what we do.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
It's done, finished. And because of it, we do not need to live a sinless life.
While we were still sinners Christ did what He did for us. It's done, finished. And because of it, we do not need to live a sinless life. However, as a response, we want to honour God with our words, our thoughts and our actions. Also, we know that God's way is the best way. He gives us rules not because we have to keep them, but because they are the best way at going about life. Sin has consequences that God wants to help us avoid, so He tells us (and shows us, in Jesus) the best way to live life.
But this good and right and godly way of life is not easy. It's not simple. It's not for wimps. It's hard work because we are not only striving for something that is so contrary to our nature, but also we ouselves are caused to change. The Holy Spirit shapes and moulds us, fashioning us into the person we were made to be. (You can find out more about this in Alan's post 'New Creation').
The reason for this post is to talk about one way we can massively help ourselves, and each other, stay on track.
Community is one of the greatest blessings of the Christian faith. Did you know that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world? That's nearly a third of the population of the planet. We are not alone.
We are part of something so big... a fellowship of other believers, a family, a brotherhood, a wolf pack
We are part of something so big... a fellowship of other believers, a family, a brotherhood, a wolf pack... And in this community we are not just called to live a godly life ourselves, but to support each other. You should be excited, because you have a family of people around you who want to support you and pray for you and you should also be excited because you have a family around you that you can invest in.
One great part of church is accountability groups: having a select few brothers or sisters (in Christ, not actual relatives) who you share completely honestly with about your life. You meet regularly to chat over how each of you is doing, you encourage one another, you challenge one another, you pray together, you learn together...
As time goes by, you will get to know each other so well that you can tell by looking when one of your brothers or sisters needs an encouraging word or a kick up the arse.
I think that every Christian should have a couple of others who they are accountable with
So, I'll get to the point: I think that every Christian should have a couple of others who they are accountable with. By joining with others in this way, I have personally grown masses in my faith and I have seen so many others do the same.
Sam's top tips for setting up an accountability group
- Pray, pray, pray.
You need to make sure you cover this in prayer. If you do, you can't go far wrong because God answers prayer :)
- Ask God who you should partner up with. Listen! Think about Christian friends who you would like to walk alongside in this way and who you would be happy to share openly with.
It is a good idea to stick with people of the same gender, as there are some issues which are best not to share cross-gender in this way... if you know what I mean!
It is also a good idea to stick with people who are at a similar place to you, faith-wise. This is not about mentoring: a more one-way relationship where one person is developing the other. You are supposed to be supporting each other fairly equally.
- Ask them.
Just explain that you'd like to start meeting up intentionally to share about life and pray together. Simple.
Sam's top tips for running an accountability group
There's no set format, you can handle things the way that seems most comfortable for you. However, here are some tips from experience:
- Don't meet in the quietest cafe in town. You want to be in an environment where you're not worried about being overheard, otherwise it will stifle your ability to be open with each other.
- Don't turn all formal and stop having fun! Make sure you do cover the accountability stuff, but have a laugh together too. Some of the most energising times are just hanging out together.
- Trust is the name of the game. You wouldn't expect your mates to share your deepest secret, so don't share theirs. You need to lay down the rule of 'what happens in accountability stays in accountability'.
There are exceptions. If you think that someone is at risk of abuse, or a crime has been committed, you should go to someone you trust to decide if anything needs to be done. If you're not sure, talk to someone older and wiser outside of the situation.
- Don't just wait until you meet. Keep in contact through different means so that you're more a part of each others' lives. But don't let that mean you don't meet face-to-face too!
Now go do it! Get accountable with someone and encourage each other.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Are you in an accountability group?