Your Back’s Covered

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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The apostle Paul wrote in his biblical letter to the Philippians, if then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind He then encouraged them to look to Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness (Phil. 2:1-2, 6-7 NRSV).

The Greek word Paul chose for encouragement in this Scripture passage was paraclesis. The related term, paraclete, stems from ancient Greek military vocabulary. Greek soldiers went into battle paired up. Standing back to back, sword and shield in hand, they fought off enemy troops. The person standing behind was a “wing man” whom the other relied on to watch his backside! The Greeks called this trusted soldier and friend the paraclete.

Drawing on this word’s rich heritage, Paul calls our attention to Christ, the paraclete for us. Paul paints a compelling picture of Jesus, who could have come as a commanding general or unyielding tyrant, but who came instead to stand beside us—encourage and protect us—watching our backside, at the same time calling forth our best effort.

Paul waxed eloquent in his description of Jesus as Paraclete to also show us how we are to be with one another. Far too often we experience people who trip us up, sabotage our work, or block our advance. Sometimes we are victims of such behavior; sometimes we perpetuate it! Paul urged these new Christians to consider Jesus—the way he lived and the model he exhibited—as an alternative: Stand beside one another instead. Be of good courage and en-courage others. Let others shine; celebrate their good fortune and efforts. Be a resource to those around you in faith and vocation and guide them to a better way of living and working.

Imagine people learning to get along, work together, foster their best efforts, and serve one another. Too “pie in the sky”? Perhaps we will never experience it in its fullness. But paraclesis starts with you. What people in your life is God calling you to encourage? Is there someone in the office who needs a supportive word from you? Do your spouse or children experience you as commanding officer or one who protects and encourages?

Consider today specific ways God is calling you to be a paraclete, then act on them before the sun goes down.