6. Apostolic Covering: Are You Covered?
Continuing the approach to the apostolic, it is essential that covering is properly understood now that we have begun to clarify the difference between an Apostle and the apostolic.
At the outset of this article let me say that if the word covering immediately makes you think of what someone does to you, and that it is limiting or controlling in some way, then I encourage you to keep reading.
I have, on numerous occasions, spoken about or referenced the subject of spiritual covering, aware that this can be a contentious subject. After all, it is not directly the language of the Bible. We should of course firstly be covered by Christ rather than by man. Yet we do see that the Apostle Paul sent Timothy – which could be interpreted as him being covered by his father Paul. This was clearly not a controlling covering but instead it was one of a loving proud dad, confident in the exploits of his son and knowing that the son will represent the father.
Sometimes we can be tempted to reject ‘covering’ because we have been hurt or that the concept is not in the bible especially not in the way we may have been taught it in the past.
The temptation of rejecting covering because of error or pain wounding us, will potentially rob us of the benefits of true spiritual covering.
Covering which is imposed without the appropriate relationship is likely to carry with it the elements of control and that is where the danger lies.
Covering is also not just an agreement to a set of rules and doctrine or paying fees, although all of those may have their place.
Covering is when out of relationship & honour I allow myself to be commissioned to carry out the vision of a father or mother. Then I can position myself to be covered by a leader who represents Christ even though I may have no direct personal relationship with them. But if I have the heart posture of a son or daughter, I will receive from them as I position myself to honour their lives and teachings.
My goal is to live with my heart available to receive heaven through one of heaven’s representatives. I am free to choose and to reposition my heart and sense of covering if Christ is not represented by them in some areas but that does not give me license to criticise or to stop loving them. Covering therefore becomes my choice first. From reading a book or listening to a teacher who I honour as a father or mother to a close personal relationship with someone in an organisation of which I am a son I can experience being covered and ultimately sent. Most importantly it is and always must be an inside job first.
Think of an umbrella. I meet many who have experienced ‘covering’ in the form of someone holding an umbrella over their head. I am sure that I am not alone in finding that when someone else holds the umbrella, I run the risk of being poked in the eye, my head scratched or getting rain on my head. This is akin to the covering extended in a form of a more controlling organization. We can have our vision impaired, our heads hurt and still get rained on.
The ‘covering’ that I prefer is when I am given an umbrella and I choose to raise it. As I walk I am able to adjust it without impairing my vision or having my head – my thoughts and dreams – affected. Even if the rain should be blown in my face in a gale, I can move the covering in front of me. It is also more of a multi-coloured covering because we can find and choose a variety of them. After all Paul told the Corinthians that they had many teachers and yet not many fathers, which implies that we may have many fathers.
Returning to the scenario with Paul sending Timothy, it is very clear that Paul is commissioned to do the works of Christ and that Timothy is to remind those that he is sent to of Paul’s works in Christ. True sons are able to position themselves to receive from fathers because they can, through the maturity of sonship, choose those attributes which remind them of Jesus and overlook those that are less so.
I do not desire to travel or minister on life’s journey alone. Yes, my primary covering is Christ but it is also found in the commission of those who I choose to consider fathers in the life of this son, some of whom I have not met.
Those hurt by abusive covering can find great freedom in receiving their umbrella and choosing the segments of that umbrella, the messages and commissioning of many fathers to do the work of Christ. Of course, as in the natural, we will have primary fathers but we will also find the ‘in-laws’ through relationships as we connect with a variety of families across the earth. Covering is not about control, but protection, encouragement, favour, and support. It is to be an image of the things we receive through our covering from Christ.
Covering is alignment. One of my favourite phrases from a father in my life is: ‘I don’t embrace your vision until I see that you have embraced mine.’ This is not by any means a harsh statement because he starts in the heart of a father and is an invitation to a son to position themselves, (receive covering). Once that first step is in place, the sky is the limit and the one being covered is believed in, sent and empowered in the relationship.
As we align with those who are ahead of us on the journey, or who carry a different grace, we get to receive as it were a prophet in the name of a prophet. We can find ourselves ministering out of a grace which comes as a result of our alignment.
Are you covered? It starts with you.