We are rich in ways that we do not see and frequently do not understand. Catching the Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

I’ve been a Christian for 31 years, and in that amount of time you see a lot of trends and fads:

The Name It/Claim it Blab It/Grab It movement that damages the pure sense of trust we have in God’s wisdom to know and meet our needs just never goes away. If you don’t know it by these names, you may recognize the prosperity gospel, health and wealth, word of faith, or positive confession, and if you watch too much television, you might have been mesmerized into thinking that, the reason you don’t have a new car, or lots of money, or a great job instead of the crummy one you endure, is because you don’t grab God’s promises and shake them in His face.

The only people who win with this doctrine are the ones who sell the books, conduct the seminars, and cash the checks.

The Myth of Accountability

Another insidious misuse of truth is the accountability doctrine, which goes beyond the simple concept that we — sensitively and with wisdom — point out to a Christian brother when he is doing something wrong. This in itself is a delicate situation, capable of being misused and mishandled, but we push it to the extremes of forcing ourselves far too aggressively into the privacy of other people’s souls.

In small groups, which are supposed to be intimate and safe somehow, participants are encouraged to divulge the very deepest secrets of their spirit, and if they don’t, then this is evidence that they don’t “trust” their brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have no difficulty at all in admitting that I do not trust somebody just because they flash an ID card in front of my face that says, “Brother and Sister in Christ. Upon demand, bearer is entitled to unquestioned trust of, acceptance by, and confessions of other Brothers and Sisters in Christ.”

James 5: 16 is frequently misquoted and misapplied:

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed,”

as a stick to compel others to “share” deeply, often uncomfortably, information that is so secret and so fragile, that only God’s hands are gentle enough to touch it.

Small Groups — Another Fad?

If you read that verse closely, it does not say to rip the bodice off the bosom of your soul and let everyone see. It says to confess your sins — logically, to the people against whom you have sinned — and pray for one another. You do not have to go into great, embarrassing detail about your every thought, temptation, desire, and failure.

We can minister to, and learn from, one another without invading one another’s privacy. Beachside Diversions, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Indeed, the word accountability, used in the intrusive sense, does not appear in the Bible, and if someone wants to quote Romans 14: 12,

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God,” you’ll notice that the words Small Group do not appear.

Actually, small groups is another fad, a by-product of corporate team-meeting culture that breaks down mega-church populations into manageable segments. Regrettably, small churches — the entire population of which would fit into a SuperSized Church’s “small” group — heartily embrace this concept, abandoning the very strength they have in their existing, and intimate, small numbers.

Why are potlucks — in which people meet, and fellowship — over food, thought to be so spiritually inadequate?

Fads come and go, the only unchanging aspect about any of our lives being God Himself, who is the “same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13: 8)

Interestingly, the verse immediately following says, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.”

My dear, card-carrying brother and sister in Christ:

Follow Christ. Not fads.

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. I post three times a week and I invite you to 1) comment, 2) subscribe to this blog, 3) pass me on, and 4) speak out and speak up as a Christian. When we don’t speak, others speak for us.

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