There’s this wonderful word I used to not like but have come to love, and that is to lean in to accountability. Let's say you're on the freeway and it is chaos. People are driving badly. They're speeding. They're weaving. They're cutting each other off. They're texting. They're talking on cell phones. They're getting distracted. They're getting angry. They're making non faith-based gestures at each other.
Then, a black and white car with a big blue light pulls onto the freeway. What happens? It's like a miracle. People slow down. People hit their brakes, although Robin always says to me, don’t hit your brakes. They'll know you were speeding. Just take your foot off the accelerator. Cell phones get put away. Fingers get retracted. What changes everything in a single word is accountability. Now, the reality is we're always accountable for how we drive, but we forget, or we think nobody will hold us accountable.
Can we thank God for law enforcement officers who understand the power of grace and mercy and forgiveness? Our capacity to generate excuses is staggering, not just when it comes to driving. I'm stressed because of my boss. I drink because of my problems. I yell because of the kids. I'm late because of the traffic. I'm in debt because... I'm lonely because... I'm bored because... I'm angry because...
Meanwhile, the life I could lead, the character I could acquire, the contributions I could make, the books I could read, the people I could serve are slipping away moment by moment, and I deceive myself (I allow it to happen) by just making one excuse after another not thinking about it, but the reality is I am accountable for my choices and for my life. accountable and nobody will notice, so we make up excuses.
It's amazing how many excuses we come up with for why God could not use us. If people in the Bible allowed excuses to keep them from being used by God the way we do, the Bible would never have gotten written. Every character in the Bible had some reason why God could not use them. Timothy was too young. Abraham was too old. Moses was too slow of speech. Gideon was too scared. Esau was too hairy. Jonah was a runaway. Joseph was a convict. Rahab was a prostitute. Noah got drunk. Samson had an impulse control disorder. Peter sank. Thomas doubted. Zacchaeus was greedy, corrupt, and vertically challenged. What is your excuse? What is it? Starting with Jesus and his disciples, relationships of accountability have been part of transforming community ever since.