9 types of leaders in Scripture
Mon May 20, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
5 bits of wisdom for the professional Christian woman
Sun May 19, 2013
by Shandel Slaten
Sat May 18, 2013
by Hugh Whelchel
Resurgence roundup, 5/17/13
Fri May 17, 2013
Grace all the way
Wed May 15, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
Ten Bucks in the Jar
In college, I leaned too much upon accountable relationships to stay on track.
I placed too much faith in accountability and not enough faith in the gospel. I began discipling others with this rule-keeping bent. When I recall the discipleship I advocated, I shudder.
"Pay the Price"
When one of the guys I was discipling caved in to a particular sin he was “being held accountable for,” he had to put ten bucks in a jar. I enforced the punishment for breaking the moral rules. In our aim to promote holiness, ten bucks was the penalty for pandering to sin. We thought this approach to accountability was especially good for fighting sexual sin.
If one of the guys I discipled had a particularly lustful week (viewing inappropriate TV, reading pornographic material, etc.), he had to “pay the price.” When we met for our weekly accountability meeting, I would ask a range of questions designed to promote accountability, but as I recall, we only assigned sexual sins the steep penalty of ten dollars. Other sins were considered less grievous.
The unfortunate result is a kind of legalism in which peer-prescribed punishments are substitutes for repentance and faith in Jesus.
Sometimes the accumulated cash was put in the offering, other times it was used to celebrate “not sinning” over dinner. Somehow, this practice was supposed to motivate holy living, but instead, it fostered a religious legalism that undercut a more biblical approach to fighting sin.
In legalistic accountability groups, failures to perform are punished through graduated penalties (an increased tithe, buying lunch or coffee for the partners, or unspoken ostracism from one’s peers). Instead of holding one another accountable to belief in the gospel, we become accountable for exacting punishments.
The unfortunate result is a kind of legalism in which peer-prescribed punishments are substitutes for repentance and faith in Jesus. As a result, our motives for holiness get twisted. Confession in such contexts is relegated to “keeping from sinning,” making discipleship a duty-driven, rule-keeping journey. We end up fighting against the church instead of with her.
This post is excerpted from Jonathan Dodson's new Re:lit book, Gospel-Centered Discipleship. For the rest of the conversation about the definition of discipleship, what it is and it applies to the gospel, pick up your copy today.