Not only is our responsibility to behave like Christians in the outside world, but also to be Christians in our behavior to one another. We are to watch over one another in brotherly love. That does not merely mean we are to care for each other, although it certainly does mean that. It is more than care, it is accountability. This is something that many, many churches neglect in this modern age of consumer driven church. We don’t like the idea of accountability. We don’t like to think about answering to anyone outside ourselves. We may even say, “I am accountable to Christ alone!” That is true, but the means Christ has established to disciple his people is the church. This mutual accountability is clear throughout Scripture. It is not something to be feared, but embraced. God loves us and through his word provides for our growth and maturity. Hebrews says, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? … For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it,” Hebrews 12: 7,11. Please remember, this accountability, this “watching over” is redemptive not judgmental. We need one another to grow in the faith.
So what does this covenant of accountability look like? We see it described in the next phrases of the covenant. We must lift one another up in intercessory prayer. If we are all accountable to the Lord, we should pray for one another fervently. I hope you will pray for all the people of our church on a regular basis, not only when they are ill. Pray they will grow and mature in the things of Christ. Pray they will develop a passion and desire for the word of God. Pray that they will be all that God wants them to be at Oak Crest and in his glorious kingdom. Equally, we are to love one another in times of sickness. Our desire for one another should always be health and growth both spiritually and physically. There is nothing quite like facing sickness with the love and support of your church family. Many of you have felt the prayers of our church as you or a loved one has recovered in a time of illness. We need and depend on each other. There is no substitute for a church family when times are difficult.