Let us hear what God the Lord will speak. For He will speak peace to His people, to His faithful, to those who turn to Him in their hearts.
a thought to consider:
“God is more concerned about the dangers of human uniformity than He is about human diversity. We humans are far too evil to be allowed to unite in one language or government. The gospel of the glory of Christ spreads better and flourishes more because of the 6,500 languages, not just in spite of it.”
“The Pride of Babel and the Praise of Christ” by John Piper
something Jesus said:
They brought to Him a man who was deaf and had difficulty speaking, and they begged Jesus to place His hand on him. Jesus, taking him aside by himself, away from the crowd, put His fingers into the man’s ears, and after spitting, He touched the man’s tongue with the saliva; and, looking up to heaven, He sighed deeply and said to the man, “Ephphatha,” which in Aramaic means, “Be opened and released!” And, his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he began speaking plainly.
Now the whole earth spoke one language and used the same words and vocabulary. And as the people journeyed eastward, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they settled there. They said one to another, “Come, let us make bricks and fire them in a kiln to harden and strengthen them.” So, they used brick for stone as building material and they used tar, bitumen and asphalt, for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build a city for ourselves, and a tower whose top will reach into the heavens, and let us make our name famous. Then will not be scattered into separate groups and be dispersed over the surface of the entire earth as the LORD instructed."
Now the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one, unified people, and they all have the same language. This is only the beginning of what they will do in rebellion against Me, and now no evil thing that they imagine they can do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—go down there and confuse and mix up their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad starting with the city and spreading over the entire surface of the earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore the name of the city was Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the entire earth; and from that place the LORD scattered and dispersed them over the surface of all the earth.
I love the story of the Tower of Babel. I think it’s absolute proof that God leans way more toward the collaboration of differences rather than the uniformity of agreement.
But were the people so wrong to want to unite and be as great as God? Were their intentions evil or inspired? These are the remnants of Noah. Their ancestors had survived the end of the world by way of flood and so they did what was natural to do: they put into place a plan that would ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. They came together to make their own salvation. It’s an act of defiance for sure. It reeks of pride and arrogance for certain. But who can blame them? Have we not all been there? Our world gets washed out and instinctively—almost immediately—we begin to build walls. The world outside seems strange and dark compared to the light of our familiar, and our response is the put up scaffolding to block it out. We speak only to those who understand where we are coming from and find the voices of those who do get us as jarring as a threat.
When the slave boats arrived on the shores of America, the first thing the slave auctioneers did was erase all the captives’ names. They spiritually—and yes, sometimes physically—cut out the natives’ tongues. The captives were given new names and a new language that they could not speak but that they understood fluently in all its terror. When slaves were emancipated, the South spoke a new language called Jim Crow. And when Jim Crow became illegal and ill-fitting on our tongues, whites built suburban, gated walls with major highways to tower between us and them.
How could this be?
As long as the architects of the supreme towers agree these there is a threat of an impending flood of trouble, they can always find the funding for their bricks. When they perceive that the darkness of the clouds no longer holds the innocence of pure and simple rain—an act of mercy from the heavens—but instead a torrential storm that will wash everything that they hold dear clean away, instinctively they lay the first bricks of the tower and scalp the tongues of those who do not speak their language.
Even though the Lord Himself continues to confuse, scatter and disperse all builders of towers, the kiln of systemic injustice is still lit, the bricklayers are still building brick-by-brick, and the noise of the continual working, building, clanking of bricks is deafening. We no longer even know who is the Us and who is the Them because both sides are feverishly building their towering arguments, and incomprehensibly babbling.
Where can the deaf and mute go except to Jesus to have their ears opened and their tongues released so that they can begin to clearly hear the Savior and speak plainly of His glory? Jesus is the Word and His Word abides in us with His fingers touching our tongues coating them with His salvia, rich with grace and truth. He holds our tongues and speaks, “Ephphatha! Be opened and released in 6,500 languages!”
1. Think of a time when your whole world was destroyed—a relationship abruptly ended, a sudden death, a job loss. In order to begin to live again, which was easier for you: collaboration with those things that were foreign and different, or uniformity with things that were likewise and in agreement? Which one—collaboration or uniformity—do you think God most called you to?
2. Where do you see the Church working in collaboration, and where do you see the Church working towards uniformity in regards to women & the church, the LGBTQ & the church, people of color & the church?
3. Who are the deaf in your church? Who are the mute in your church?
4. Where have you recognized “the danger of human uniformity” that John Piper spoke of?
5. In what ways have you noticed an Us vs. Them divisions in your community, schools or church? Is it possible to change your language to We & Us? For more on this I recommend reading, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland.
Father God, Jesus and Holy Spirit, thank you for keeping us from building towers unto ourselves. We ask your forgiveness for all the places that we haven’t obediently dispersed and scattered. Forgive us for staying in our own towers rather than taking shelter in Yours. Forgive us for building our communities, schools and churches with our own man-made bricks rather than building Your world using stones that only Your hands can make. We pray forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
May the Lord be merciful to you and bless you. May His kindness infuse your hearts so that His love and forgiveness will be scattered and dispersed throughout the earth and to all you meet. Glory be to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.