Speed Cameras and Accountability

I was recently in Scotland taking a vacation and visiting with family. While there, I had the terrifying privilege of driving on the opposite side of the road, on the opposite side of the car. Apart from almost turning down the wrong lane and taking a few roundabouts a little too fast, I did all right.

I did notice something interesting about traffic enforcement in Scotland. I seldom observed a police car patrolling the streets trying to catch people speeding. However, I did notice a plethora of speed cameras. There were cameras almost every few miles on interstates, town roads, and country roads. However, these cameras operate differently than cameras in the States.

Speed cameras in the States clock your speed as you pass. Most of the time, a sign warns you that the camera is approaching. Drivers will then slow down to the appropriate speed, and then quickly accelerate, zooming off down the road as soon as they pass the camera. All the camera accomplished was a temporary decrease in speed.

Cameras in Scotland did not clock your speed. Rather, each camera worked together to track your average speed. For example, if you pass one camera on a road with a speed limit of 50mph, the next camera you pass will track how long it took you to get from the first camera to the second. Thus, if you arrived at the second camera faster than what it would have taken going only 50mph, it would know that you sped. In essence, the cameras hold you accountable for the duration of your journey, not just a snippet in time.

These two different systems of cameras relate to accountability amongst believers in community. I fear that our accountability looks more like the American system of speed cameras. You go to church, or a prayer meeting, knowing that you will be asked how you are doing spiritually. You “slow-down”, and make your drive appear lawful. Everything seems in order. Yet, as soon as you leave, you pick up speed again, driving down the same path of destruction that sin has you travelling. On the opposite side, too few of us do the hard work of “exhorting one another every day… that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). It is much easier to act like an American speed camera. We live isolated lives, checking in on the health of our brothers and sisters only occasionally. We let sin deceive us into thinking that a brother is fine because we asked him one time a month ago how he was doing. In reality, he is struggling with an addiction to porn and cannot stand the shame of being found out. Yet we settle for a brief snapshot of accountability. This is not biblical.

Instead, we need accountability like the speed cameras I saw in Scotland. We need believers in our lives constantly, “every day” as the author of Hebrews wrote. We need every part of our travel along this pilgrim highway filled with brothers and sisters who constantly pray for us, lead us, guide us, exhort us, and rebuke us. We need accountability that knows our pace along the entire journey, not just a mere moment in time.

I have witnessed lives ruined by sin. I have seen ministers of the gospel fall away into unrepentant adultery, ruining their families, marriages, and ministries. What is terrifying is that there were no visible warning signs. When they knew the camera was coming to clock their speed, they slowed down, saved face, and made everything seem like their lives were okay. I wonder if accountability partners acting like those Scottish speed cameras could have protected those men from the devastating crashes caused by unchecked sin.

I pray two things from what I noticed in Scotland. I pray that we will be active in our part to seek out accountability partners that will be like Scottish speed cameras; always checking in, looking at our average pace, not just a moment in our life. I also pray that we will strive to be the kind of believers that will do this hard, laborious, dirty, yet glorious work of biblical accountability. Too many brothers and sisters speed down a highway of sin, pumping the breaks as they walk through the doors of the church. This is not the kind of community Christ died for and has called us to nurture. Therefore, let’s exhort one another every day, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, restoring those in sin in a spirit of gentleness, bearing one another’s burdens, fulfilling the law of Christ (Hebrews 3:13, 10:25; Galatians 6:1-2).

Article by: Cory Higdon

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