Take a moment to think about your life as a circle. Not necessarily as a sequence of moments or a series of consequential events, but as a circle of influence. Yes, influence. Imagine for a moment every life that you have the opportunity to invest in on a daily basis: maybe your first thought is about your spouse and children or your best friend or a coworker. The point is that everyone has a circle of people that God has placed in their lives that they can influence positively or negatively. However, for many of us and myself included, we have never considered the thought that as Christians we are accountable for and to them. We are accountable for them in the sense that God has placed us in an influential position, where we can either leverage all the He has entrusted to us to proclaim His glory to them or we can choose to live in well mannered indifference. In the same way, we are also accountable to them because whether they see their need for God’s grace or choose to ignore His immeasurable kindness, the impetus for living with gospel centered intentionality has been entrusted to us, and for this we will all have to give an account.
The first time I heard of this concept was in a conversation with a mentor of mine, and to be honest, I was initially resistant to the idea of a personal responsibility for the lostness of people in my circle of accountability (COA) for one very specific reason: the idea of a ‘burden’ for the lostness of the nations as the first cause or primary catalyst for missions and evangelism inevitably leads to despair or pride as this view of missions is driven by a man centered focus. I believed at the time, and still do to this day, that the primary foundation for missions and evangelism is not the lostness of man but the glory of God, and a desire to proclaim his glory unto the ends of the earth. In other words, the driving force calling us to serve God’s purpose among the nations must be worship: first, the proper worship of God that leads to our service and second, the misdirected worship of the roughly 4.7 billion people that creates the need for workers in the harvest.
Despite my initial misgivings, the idea of a circle of accountability entrusted to me by God the Father continued to bear down on my soul. So much so, that I began to search the Scripture for answers and a biblical basis for a ‘shared accountability’ and concern for those I live, work, and interact with daily that would harmonize with a God centered approach to missions. As I began to search the Bible for passages to confirm or condemn a concept that I was daily being persuaded to believe, I happened upon two specific passages that stood out above the rest: the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and the parable of the shrewd manager. Little did I know at the time that these two parables would not only harmonize my thinking on these two subjects, but also would challenge me personally to reorganize my life, family, time, and priorities around the hope I have been given in Christ Jesus. If you have taken the time read this far, then I would hope I could persuade you to read on a little further. Every monday morning for the next several months, I will continue to publish more and more of our developing thoughts on how to draw a circle around our lives, dreams, and relationships - starting with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16:19-31. Looking forward to having you join us on this journey
By His Grace,