Several years ago, I attended a professional growth event where the presenter stated that one of the essential features of the Christian faith is the balancing act between “belonging and accountability.”
Perhaps the season of Lent is a good time to examine this balance in our lives. We all belong in the church. Jesus is central to our belonging. It is because of his love and his forgiveness that we belong to God and to one another as Christian brothers and sisters. At the same time we are also accountable. We are held accountable to live a life of discipleship that continues the work of Christ. Peacefully. Simply. Together.
Sometimes, however, tension may surface between these two aspects. Some believe that belonging is contingent upon certain rules within the Christian realm. We have to do “such and such” in order to belong, and if we don’t do “such and such” then we can’t belong. Others believe that certain rules that call us into accountability exclude some from belonging. So they advocate that we be very careful in setting rules if we set them at all.
There is no easy answer to this tension. It is a tension that we must live with and we must try to do our best to strike a balance within this tension when we can. There are times when we do not want to call others into accountability because we feel we might exclude or offend them. We know that such accountability is important, but it might prevent them from feeling like they belong. What to do? Sometimes we let things slide and other times we take a risk.
Using another example, there are times when we may be passive and shy about approaching a newcomer and making them feel that they belong and there are other times when doing so comes easy and natural. Again, what to do when we see someone standing alone just waiting for someone to approach them? What to do when we see a neighbor out in the community and we want to share what we are doing in the church with them? How can we send them the message that they can belong if they wish to?
Belonging and accountability. If these aspects are indeed central to the Christian faith, then we should work together at creating a balance between the two here at Green Tree and in society at large.