Freedom Friday: Who’s Got Your Back?

I’m reading the book of Acts right now.

In Acts 10, Cornelius, a God-fearing Roman army officer (in other words, a Gentile, not a Jew), saw an angel who told him to send men to Joppa to find Simon Peter. The next day, Peter has this vision:

[Peter] saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners.12 In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”  

“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.”

But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.

The scriptures go on to say that Peter was perplexed: what did this all mean?  Then Cornelius’ servants arrived. After confirming that Peter was the man they were looking for, we read this in verse 23:

So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa.

Despite having a vision that was clearly from the Lord, Peter used much wisdom in deciding not to travel alone (in Acts 11:12, we learn it’s 6 men).  What he felt God was proposing seemed contrary to what he knew.

He wanted some trusted brothers there to have his back.

The concept of having others come alongside in the spreading of the Gospel, as well as walking with God, was not new, of course.  In Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:1, Jesus sent the disciples out two by two.  Several times in Scripture, the importance of several witnesses is emphasized, both for confirming a crime or an accusation (Deuteronomy 17:6, Matthew 18:16, 1 Timothy 5:19), and as well as for confirming prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:29).

But why is this important?

1. There is safety in numbers.
Jesus told the disciples, as He sent them out two by two, “Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). The disciples didn’t know what they’d encounter out there.  Since our recent move, we now live in an area with few streetlights and incomplete sidewalks.  At our old home, I ran in the dark without fear because there were always cars passing by as I ran on well-lit streets with wide sidewalks.  Here, I run with a buddy.

When Peter returned from Cornelius’ house, he was criticized by some of the Jewish believers for his actions (Acts 11:2). Peter was able to tell them, with the agreement of the brothers who had been with him, what God had done.  He had witnesses to God’s work who had his back.

2. There is strength in prayer support.
Paul asked often in his letters to the churches that they pray for him.  Prayers that doors would be opened to the gospels.  Prayers that Paul would declare the Gospel clearly and fearlessly.  Prayers that he would be rescued.  The author of Hebrews requested prayer that he would be restored to them soon.

Paul prayed of the Ephesians church: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:16-17a).

There is strength is having others come alongside and pray for you: for your growth, for your kingdom work, for healing, and for support.

3. There is comfort in companionship.
Paul often sent believers to various churches to encourage and uplift them.  Here is one example:

“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow workerand fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.  Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.  Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.” Philippians 2:25-28

And another:

“Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything…. I am sending him to you for this very purpose…… that he may encourage you.” Ephesians 6:21-22

Paul also requests that people come to him.  He asks for Titus in Titus 3.  He tells Timothy, “do your best to come to me quickly,” he tells Timothy (2 Timothy 4:9), and then lists several people who have deserted and harmed him.  And then he said, “Do your best to get here before winter” (v.21). 
Timothy, my dear apprentice and friend, so many have deserted me, but I know you are faithful. I need you.



Who has got your back?

One thought on “Freedom Friday: Who’s Got Your Back?

  1. Pingback: Freedom Friday: Avoiding Moral Failure | Living Unveiled

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