Remember the anticipation building as the final second of the school year ticked away? Hallelujah! Summer! No more class! No more homework! No more school! Just three months of uninterrupted bliss! Finally you had the freedom to do whatever you wanted to do. Nothing could hold you back. Not teachers, not schoolwork, not parents, nothing.
Isn’t it great to be free?
We often mistake this “school’s out for summer” experience of freedom for the true freedom we have as Christians. Oftentimes, we are selfishly able to convince ourselves that because Christ called us “free,” we can do whatever we want with our free time and our living.
But it is not the last-day-of-school sort of freedom for which God has set us free. As Christians our attitude toward freedom is extremely different. First and foremost, as St. Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Jesus’ death and resurrection gives freedom from sin, death, and the devil. Jesus set us free when nothing else could, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). We have reason to celebrate! We are free! But now what? How can the Spirit help us to live wisely? Better yet, how can we best model freedom for the youth and the churches we serve?
Our best response is not an attitude toward living that is synonymous with three months of summer vacation. We are freed to serve! That’s exactly what Jesus did. Even though He had the freedom to do anything, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” (Matt. 28:18). Jesus was the ultimate servant, even humbling himself to death on a cross.
Perhaps you are saying, “Thanks for the pep talk, but it just doesn’t work so easily.” You’re right. Living to serve is not so easy. Freedom in Christ comes with a great price and we experience great tension as we live as forgiven saints and yet perpetual sinners.
As Christians, we have to hold each other accountable: accountable to the law of God and most assuredly to His grace. A way to begin this “accountable” living is to start an accountability group. Meeting regularly with trusted Christian friends to discuss sins, struggles, and successes creates an authentic atmosphere where Christ works forgiveness as the law and gospel of the Word is proclaimed among believers.
On our own it is easy to lose sight of living to serve. We hide our struggle with sin, our experiences of pain, and our own inner frustrations. Church workers may even fear that if “anyone really knew about me, who I really am, they would lose all respect for me. Maybe I would even lose my job.” This is hardly living in freedom.
Accountability groups provide meaningful experiences by which believers are blessed through deep and abiding relationships with Christian friends. These relationships encourage faith, knowledge of Scripture, and sincere Christian relationships; pride and individualism lose out, lives are strengthened. Through the Word and the Spirit working, lives are freed for serving.
The anticipation is building. It’s the release we’ve all been waiting for! Finally we have freedom. And what are we going to do with it? Let’s get accountable for service.
Forming An Accountability Group
1. Choose one or two leaders for each group (should have been members of another group for at least a year and have been trained as accountability group leaders)
2. Meet in same sex groups of 5-7 people (this includes the leaders)
3. Meet regularly (this usually means weekly or every other week)
4. Incorporate Bible study
5. Pray in your groups (for each other at meetings and during the week)
6. Share sins, struggles, and successes (forgive and receive forgiveness)
7. Enjoy the honest and genuine Christian friendships in your group.