I’m a sucker for Hymn #686 in the 1982 Hymnal. “Come thou fount of every blessing”, written by a Baptist Dissenter named Robert Robinson, speaks to the power of both sin and grace in the lives of the faithful. The line which most resonates with me this week is “… prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…” This is, for most of us, the life of discipleship. We follow, sometimes very closely, to the will of God, but like the ancient Israelites, like the Apostles, like followers of Jesus throughout the generations, we soon fall victim to our own self-interests.
We forget that every good and perfect gift comes from God. We begin to rely on our own power and intellect. Before long, we have wandered far from the kingdom of God and are neck deep in our own sin, pride, envy, and greed. Each of us is prone to wander, which is why James takes some time to remind those who are in the confines of grace to reach out to those who have gone astray.
“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” – James 5:19-20
Accountability is one of the key reasons why Christianity can not be done in isolation. If there is no one but ourselves to call us back from our wandering, then we may never find our way back home. God works through the Church, through Christian friends and family, to find us when we’ve gone astray. That is a great gift for all of us who wander, but James reminds us that there is also a gift for those who go seeking after the lost. In seeking, we find, not just those who are lost, but that which has been lost within ourselves as well. That’s the two-way gift of accountability. That’s grace.