Freedom and accountability
For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which
includes Labberton's current Living by the Word column as well as past magazine
and blog content. For full-text access to all articles, subscribe to the Century.
Every pastor needs to
address the issue of freedom and accountability. It's part of the pastor's role
in nurturing a church community: neither a laissez-faire atmosphere nor a
judicial one helps people grow as disciples.
So much of our cultural
angst and chaos has to do with how we view this subject. In our culture,
people advocate extremes of both freedom and accountability.
Unfortunately, the church's position often isn't much better considered than
the broader culture's. If you haven't preached or taught on these themes
before, be cautious about trying to load all you want to say onto this parable
of the ten maidens. Raise the questions, and develop them with the
congregation over time.
One reason accountability
and freedom are important issues in a congregation is the range of ages
represented: people of different ages consider these questions quite
differently. But the Christian faith is dynamic and flexible across
generations, cultures and contexts. It's critical for pastors to to help
people with these issues as they grow, mature and change.
Cultivating an honest and
vigorous community--one that honors the individual without being
individualistic, that honors the community without surrendering to
group-think--is central to our pastoral calling. It is very difficult to
do. Inside and outside the church, it's easy to fall prey to extremes. But the
way of Jesus holds on both to freedom and accountability with passion and