Several days ago I disconnected myself from Facebook so that “I might focus on things that require my focus.” From my thinking at the time, I knew that I had a lot of things on my plate (and I still do), and I concluded that Facebook was an unnecessary hindrance to accomplishing those things. And it probably is to a degree. Yet, I found that disconnecting myself from Facebook didn’t have the effect on my productivity that I thought it would, rather, I carried out my days as typically would, minus the occasional checking up on the Facebook feed.
After some introspection, I found that dropping off of Facebook was really for me a classic case of blame-shifting. I knew that I wasn’t a disciplined as I ought to be, I looked at something outside of myself that took up my some of my time, and I blamed that which was outside of myself rather than myself, who was the true culprit. It’s a practice that is as old as sin itself, first used by Adam to blame Eve, and then by Eve to blame the serpent.
While it is true that factors outside of ourselves can incline us to act or not to act in certain ways, these factors cannot become scapegoats for our own failings. Even so, the world has grown quite sophisticated in producing these scapegoats, using psychology and other sciences to explain why we act the way we do and so justify our actions. Yet despite the valid observations of some of it, it really is nothing more than an advanced version of what our First Parents did, and, ironically, it trades the precious the free will that we humans so naturally wish to claim for ourselves for a sort of social predestination. In other words, you are who you are because of your past, and since you cannot change your past and who you are by your past, you are destined for and not responsible for your present actions.
While the world can solace its guilty conscience by such reasoning, we Christians don’t have that luxury. For myself, I know my heritage, and I also know that I am responsible for my actions despite it. Even though my heritage and natural course was forged by Adam’s failure and I am (or rather was) a slave to it, I am still responsible before God, even if my government and society goes so far as to tell me that I’m not (cf. Rom. 3:19). Furthermore, being in Christ and knowing that I am now free from my heritage because of Christ (cf. Rom. 6:1-7:6; 8:1, etc.), I really have nowhere to hide. I am free to be righteous because of the Spirit’s emancipating work, and my sin (including my lack of discipline) can only fall on my shoulders. Facebook cannot take the blame, neither can my work, my upbringing, my genetic makeup, etc. I must take responsibility for where I fail, and I must repent and seek the strength of Christ after I fail.
So with that, I have quit my blame-shifting (for now) and have returned to Facebook, hopefully a degree wiser than when I left. For we all must one Day give an account, and Mark Zuckerberg, et al will scarcely be valid justification for our negligence on that Day.
Questions for Application
Where do you find yourself using external (or even internal) factors to justify your actions or feelings?
When you wrong someone and apologize, do you find yourself justifying yourself even then rather than letting the blame fall solely on yourself (e.g. I’m sorry, but if you didn’t … )?
If you don’t believe that you are accountable for your actions, why do you (if you do) give reasons or explanations justifying them? Does that not show that you do in fact feel accountability?