“But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. A man dishonors his head if he covers his head while praying or prophesying.” 1 Corinthians 11:3-4 NLT
Who is your covering? When you think of covering you think of protection. Something that shields you from the elements. When there is a storm you search for covering. When you search for covering you look for something bigger than you so that you can get up under it.
You can’t be protected if you are not under the covering. Being “under” implies submission. The prefix “sub” means to go under the mission. Your agenda has to go under someone else’s mission in order for there to be true submission.
Another way to look at covering is answering the question who are you responsible to? If your answer is, “I don’t have to answer to anybody,” then you don’t have a covering.
The apostle Paul said we are all covered by somebody. He is speaking according to cultural nuances for his day when he talks about head coverings in worship. Men had their heads uncovered while prophesying or praying while women covered their heads because their hair was a sign of glory only to be seen by their husbands. In some faith traditions women still wear hats and for Muslim women they wear hijabs. For men there had to be direct openness between them and their covering. They didn’t cover their head while prophesying. That’s a powerful image because there is no way to pray if you are blocking your head while you trying to minister on behalf of your covering. You can’t block who’s covering you and still expect to be effective.
As a result of grace being introduced by Jesus we are not restricted by what we wear in worship but the spiritual understanding of covering is still true. We all need to be responsible to someone.
- Jesus is responsible to God. Jesus said, “I can only do what I see the Father doing.” Jesus’ only agenda was to do what his Father sent him to do. Jesus was even honest with his Father when he said, “I really don’t want to have to die on that cross because it is going to be excruciating, but nevertheless, not my will but your will be done.” Jesus submitted to God even though it killed him. The reason Jesus was able to say what Job said, “Though he slay me yet will I trust him,” was because the Father already told him there would be a resurrection after the crucifixion!
- Men are subject to Jesus. I like the old school bumper stickers that read, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.” In families that are fortunate to have a father and mother in them the man is designated as the head of he house but he is under Christ. His wife and children are under his covering. They follow him as he follows Christ. For all of the blessings of God to flow through a house everyone has to be in the right position of accountability. But what if I don’t have a husband? Then by default you are the head of your house until when or if God sends you a husband. Singleness is a gift just like marriage is a gift. Either way you’re covered!
- The woman reports to the man in a household where there is a man and woman. This is the way God ordered it. There is a overriding respect the woman should have for her husband but there is also a mutual respect the husband has for his “helpmeet.” There is a battle of wills because some women who’ve been raised by strong, independent single mothers find it hard to come under strong men because they think it makes them weak. Submission is not about weakness it’s about honor. When God blesses you with a covering it’s your choice to get up under. You report to your covering. Your covering doesn’t report to you. That doesn’t mean the covering has the right to misuse or abuse your respect. If they do, they are no longer covering but rather exposing you to risk. Covering requires mutual respect.
Your spiritual covering comes into play when you join a particular church body. Your pastor is your spiritual covering but that requires for you to submit your gifts to your pastor and to report to him or her. Reporting doesn’t mean you telling them what you’re going to do. Reporting to them is you showing up asking what needs to be done. When a soldier shows up to his commanding officer they say, “ (Name) reporting for duty sir!” Once they receive their orders there is no second guessing or questioning just an affirmation that they understand their assignment.
Covering is not the same thing as catering. When you are covered there is an understanding that the person I’m reporting to has been sent in my life for what’s best for me. What they assign for me is what’s best for me even if I don’t like it at the time. Some people have confused covering to mean catering. The church is not Burger King. You can’t have it your way!
When we are submitted to God and God’s representative we live under the belief that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. I am submitting to what my pastor thinks is best for us.
The question is are you truly up under the covering or just standing by?
Help me to walk under the covering you have sent into my life. I am not my own boss. Jesus is my boss and I want to do everything you’ve laid out for my life. I may not always understand it but I trust you for the best outcome. Help me in turn to be a good covering for my wife, and children and the congregation you’ve given me to lead. Send me people who trust my leadership. You said, “My sheep hear my voice and they will not follow the voice of a stranger.” Send me sheep who recognize your voice in me. And let me stay close to you so that I always hear your voice and your voice resounds in me.
In Jesus’ Name,