In conversation with some long-time friends over dinner recently, I noticed one word which kept popping up – “feedback”. This was a word that kept occurring whenever they were talking about things which they didn’t like or didn’t go their way, and so they wanted to give “feedback” to the relevant authorities. Thinking about it, that just sounded like a roundabout way of complaining. It’s dressed up as being constructive, and phrased perhaps more politely, but the intent is the same – it’s a complaint that things are not the way I would like them to be, so change it now. And that got me thinking. In our heads, complaining is negative and we don’t want to be seen as complainers. However, we still want to complain, so we prettify it, rename it, rationalise it, and carry it out anyway.
And this is not restricted purely to complaining (what some call the national pastime), isn’t it? We do it for everything that we really shouldn’t be doing, whether streaming movies from dubious sites, downloading pdf copies of books online, or others. Even in how we relate to each other: we tell others what we think they should be or shouldn’t be doing, again in the name of constructive feedback. We are all guilty of doing this, and I also find myself doing the same. Hence this isn’t a judgement on us all, but a reflection that each of us is truly a sinner by nature, through and through.
We sin, and we hide it. We want to sin, and we find ways to excuse it. This, even though we are Christians, even though we know better, even though God’s grace has freed us from sin and given us the ability to follow Him instead. But old habits die hard, and self-prioritisation has its hooks deep within our souls. And that is why we need each other. We need each other to point out in love, with kindness and grace, that what we are doing is whitewashing our sin, that it is not God-fearing, is not God-honouring, and is not what it means to follow Christ. And we need God’s grace to accept the rebuke and the pain that comes from community accountability. And community accountability is needed and expected because we are one in Christ, bound by love, grace, and the Holy Spirit indwelling within us. May we extend such grace to each other always.