of accountability and community

First I’d like to propose the question: Is the so called need for accountability and community a universally thought of concept or is it Christianese, I.e., buzzwords that are propagated by Christians solely?

I would think that a need for community is backed if not propagated by folks in many walks of life and religion.  After all, what individual is not stronger with like-minded members of a group or society?  But realism, or perhaps individualized capitalism tends to be in favor of isolating community to controlled environments such as members of a commune or mental health patients in a hospital for such needs.  So then is it utopian to think of beneficial community existing outside such parameters?  At certain churches I have attended “small groups”, I.e., home bible studies or dinners, etc. that seek to connect attendants of the church with the expressed intent of building relationships.  One church even has the controlled version in which folks with troubled pasts can live together with the common purpose of the church’s itinerary which includes custodial work at the church and designated study materials.  My observation of this “commune” has seen pros and cons such as spiritual growth yet accompanied by the type of attachment a long time prisoner might experience when trying to enter back into the outside society.
My sentiment is that accountability is a subset of community.  You got to have at least a person to hold you accountable.
What I think about community is that it seems idealistic because of our society’s independent teachings, and it does have everything to do with the amount of effort you put into it.  There was a buzz-saying at the college I attended that stated, “we are all victims of our presuppositions”.  That is to say, if I have made it up in my mind that I don’t like one or a group of folks, then of course I can be persuaded to like or love them, but that presupposition that community is a waste of time will crop up again and need to be readdressed.
In the end, “with God all things are possible”.  Like an athlete striving for the Olympics, we must put on the full armor of God in defense against our predispositions that originate in hell.  We must cast aside observations and take up the kind of love that initiates relationship in season and out.  But be encouraged.  The battle is the Lord’s!  We just need to be available to be used by the Almighty!

5 thoughts on “of accountability and community

  1. So it sounds like you don't want to be shackled by community. What is good about it? When we see our friends in church sitting across the aisle from us, our kids just naturally act better *aside from waving and excitedly trying to talk*…why? because they know the people there and don't want to look like fools. Much the same way, when we are living in the midst of people we know and love, we act better, so as not to embarrass ourselves!! It is a good things, much like manners used with the elderly. Accountability looks like a simple question- have you been doing _____ like you said you wanted to? Or it could be a group study to make sure you finish a certain book. It is for your own benefit. Anyhoo….that is all.

  2. Accountability, like everything in life, worth being a part of, is a conscious choice we must make. No individual or community has either the responsiblity, or obligation to act as a sponsor in one's life. However, on the flip side, society has a norm of acceptable behaviors that are expected from its members. Here is where accountable behavioral actions are put on the forefront. Early childhood rearing, in this hemisphere is called to fill this order. A tall order it is, for studies have shown that adulthood is contingent upon how one is raised from years 0-11, give or take a few years, and dependent on child's persona. Whether they be rebellious, or very mindful, those formative years are real. JESUS commands that we love our neighbours, as ourselves, as HE loves us. I'm of the opinion that the commandment's spiritual value has more to do with a heartfelt task, rather than an earthly conversion of the thought, that looses it's potency when described as “community”.
    Byl Butler. 2013

  3. You elegantly summarize the benefits and dilemmas of community as a goal: Observing human nature reveals a need for community, yet there is a push-back from the individualistic and isolating bent of society; society sometimes pushes people into isolated and controlled forms of community; small groups in churches offer opportunity for real community but do not always work; highly restrictive communities can offer spiritual growth but also cause an attachment that makes re-entry challenging. Effort is needed, in fact warfare with spiritual armour is called for, to combat our individualistic tendencies and our bias that community may be a waste of time. Eph. 6:13.
    I am reading a chapter on the phrase from the Apostle's Creed, “I believe in one catholic and apostolic church,” from Tokens of Trust by Rowan Williams. In this declaration we affirm the church, “a community of active peacemaking and peacekeeping where no one exists in isolation or grows up in isolation or suffers in isolation. The slogan of the Church's life is 'not without the other'; no I without a you, no I without a we… So believing in the Church is really believing in the unique gift of the other that God has given you to live with.” (He goes on to discuss gifts that we have been given to share with each other).
    2 Cor 8:1-5 “we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches… they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.”
    Someone has said one would not go fight a war in Irag or Afghanistan alone; you would need to join an army. In the same way, we need community, and particularly the community of the Church if we are believers, to effectively wage war against the evils that so mightily surround us in the world we find ourselves in.
    Thanks for sharing the gift of your thoughts.

  4. Well I just finished Cross Roads which is a story bent on describing the value of and necessity of community to accomplish tasks as well as to grow as individuals, both as integral parts of the whole and in our relationship with the founder of community, which is itself a community, the Holy Trinity;.
    The book depicts a man who is radically opposed to genuine community mostly because of a loss he experienced which he is not willing to let go of. As the story develops, the protagonist becomes necessarily and impossibly linked with unlikely proponents of community. It is not only through divine communication, but through his increasing dependence on human relationships that set him free. Sure he has to fight his inner demons, but “he is never alone” as assured by the divine. So it is through reading this book that I see that community is not simply something a group of individuals fights for, but it is opportunities to fight that are given, made way for, sometimes with seemingly unavoidable strings, but given opportunities nonetheless. If we as community seekers could see with more opportunistic eyes, seeing a handshake as a provisional gift, not just a responsibility, we would do well to propagate community in the organic way only community can be.

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