FIRST-PERSON: Seat belts for your soul
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- I have a friend, near my age, whose father (I'll call him "Bob") was a World War II fighter pilot who survived being shot down. He also spent 12 hours adrift in the Mediterranean as one of the few survivors when the Germans torpedoed the transport ship he was on.
Like many of "the Greatest Generation," Bob was a tough cookie who didn't need anybody telling him how to be "safe."
In the early 1980s, long after the war, Bob retired from his job and treated himself and his wife to a new Cadillac to enjoy on trips. Much to his annoyance, Bob discovered that his Caddy came with the new-fangled, government-required seat belts. The dealer wouldn't remove the seat belts (that was illegal) so, as soon as Bob got his new car home, he removed them himself.
Bob wasn't the only person in that generation who didn't take kindly to being told to wear seat belts. But time has proven them wrong. In 1977 federal law mandated that by 1983 all new cars (like Bob's Cadillac) had to come equipped with seat belts. And since the use of seat belts became law, traffic fatalities have fallen steadily.
Obviously, we should always wear a seat belt. It's smart, it's safe and it's the law (Romans 13:1).
Seat belts for your soul
What if I told you there's a safety precaution for your soul? There are two prerequisites for serving Christ faithfully: being alive physically and being healthy spiritually. Auto seat belts can help us remain safe physically, but what about a seat belt for the soul?
Just like the dashboard bells, chimes and lights in our cars relay commands, exhortations, warnings and instructions for us to heed, the Bible is also filled with "alerts" that you and I must obey.
Just like the dashboard bells, chimes and lights in our cars, the Bible is also filled with "alerts" -- commands, exhortations, warnings and instructions for us to heed.
But I want to focus here on what may be the most effective, but least employed safety belt in the Kingdom of God: mutual accountability. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us to "consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another."
Let me recommend three ways to assemble together to promote accountability and the safety of your soul. The standard auto seat belt is called a three-point system because it connects in three places: both sides of the car seat and over the shoulder. Likewise, there are three ways you and I must be connected to ensure safety for our soul:
-- Corporate accountability. By simply attending worship every Sunday you will see and converse with people who can affirm your health and well-being. In other words, by just attending worship you demonstrate that you are "alive and well." That's not a lot of accountability, but it's a start.
-- Family accountability. Here, I'm referring to your spiritual family. Every Christian needs to be involved in an extended family-sized group --call it Sunday School, a fellowship class or a home-based group that meets weekly (or regularly). In this group you can do what you can't do in a worship service: talk, interact, contribute, ask questions, get answers, participate in serving others, use your spiritual gifts, and so on. Families are a natural source of accountability.
-- Personal accountability. There are some things that require a more intimate level of accountability. Every Christian needs a few soulmates -- close, trusted and faithful friends who love unconditionally. These friends will pray, weep and even wound when needed (Proverbs 27:6); they will let you say, "I'm struggling and need your help."
Do you have your three-point "soul belt" in place? Like the chiming of a seat belt reminder, accountability can be annoying. But remember: The life you save by being accountable may be your own.