Babel On

(While I a student a Campbell University, I used to meet with a wonderful gentleman by the name of Charles. We would meet in his son’s coffee shop on campus and discuss our lives and read scripture. Charles became a much need spiritual mentor to me during that time. This post, written in May 2016, was a result of one of our weekly meetings.)

“You ask where will we stand in the winds that will howl,

As all we see will slip into the cloud

So come down from your mountain and stand where we’ve been,

You know our breath is weak and our body thin”

~Babel, Mumford & Sons

  Every Tuesday morning I make the 20 minute drive to a coffee shop near Campbell University to meet with a man who has become a mentor to me in many ways. We are committed to coming together once a week to share life experiences and to open the Word of God and express how it is working in our life to one another.

 More than once in our discussion, true revelation has hit me. Perhaps an explanation is in order.

 Revelation can be defined as a surprising and previously unknown fact, especially one that is made known in a dramatic way.

 What I mean by that is that sometimes God drops something in our lap that we are sure did not come from our own knowledge. Peter proves this true is Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus asked him who he thought He (Jesus) was Peter answers him by saying “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (Matt. 16:15 NLT)

  What I always found funny is what Jesus immediately said to him after this. Jesus pretty much says that Peter was unable to make this connection for himself or have anyone tell him, but that the only way he could have come by this knowledge was that God revealed it to him (vs.17)

  This morning I felt like I had one of those moments. A self realization that was not done by the “self”, but by something divine.

  Our Tuesday morning study of scripture is built off of the Revised Common Lectionary. Here is what the University of Vanderbilt’s Divinity Library has to offer as a description;

           “The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of weekly lections used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant churches in Canada and the United States. The RCL is built around the seasons of the Church Year, and includes four lections for each Sunday, as well as additional readings for major feast days.”

 In other words, it is a standardized reading of scripture meant to serve Protestant denominations. You typically get an Old and New Testament passage with a Psalm thrown in for good measure.

  This morning our OT reading was from the book of Ezekiel. In chapter 37 the prophet is given a vision from God where he is placed in a valley full of bones. A desert image is depicted, the socially accepted area where no life is present. In this vision the prophet is commanded to breathe new life into these dry bones by invoking the name and power of the Lord. The bones, first take on flesh, then rise up and become living creatures once again.

 The connection here for people of the faith should be easily seen. This passage should be highlighted in every preachers Bible as a constant reminder of the call we have on the lives of those around us, to speak the Word of God which brings new life to those that understand what they hear.

 God’s Word has power. We see this all throughout scripture, perhaps most famously in the first lines of John’s Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (NIV).” The Word is used to identify Christ and his presence within the Trinity. Christ, the Word, has authority. A few verses later, John says that the Word gave life to everything created. It possess the power of life.

 This idea of the Word made me think more directly on my chosen “words”. As usually, scripture has plenty to say about the words we use towards one another.

  Proverbs 11:9, “With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.”

  Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

 Proverbs, 15:28, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

  I could keep going, but you get the idea.

  So as I sat there taking all this in, I started thinking about what my words do. Do they give life? Or am I prone to produce more saltwater than freshwater (James 3:11)?

  I was quickly reminded that I produce enough saltwater to fill the Dead Sea while in traffic during the simple act of driving to the grocery store. My speech is not edifying. It’s fodder and at its worst, directed at nothing.

 The same mouth that preaches the Gospel to my students on Sundays and Thursdays spews venom when my life doesn’t go exactly how I’d like it to.

 It is then that my revelation occurs. I’m a living Tower of Babel.

 For those not familiar with the story, it’s found in the 11th chapter of Genesis. We find mankind speaking one language with a desire to build a structure that at its peak would reach into the heavens. God saw the pride of man and in response confused their language. This story is often used to explain the origin of our many languages.

 It became apparent that my language is a confused mixture. A babel of both the language of heaven and that of the unwise. I can share the traits of both sinner and saint simultaneously. The struggle is real and ongoing, and Lord knows I need guidance and help.

 And perhaps the best thing that can happen is God reminding me to speak his Word by knocking me down when I speak my own.

 That’s what these Tuesday morning readings and discussions have been for me; a time to be humbled by God’s Word. A time to be reminded that my words have meaning… be they good or bad. That I can speak new life into dry bones or I can cause harm to others and cause them to stumble.

  I pray that God’s Word to me will always speak revelation like it did to Peter. That the power of life that springs forth from the source of mercy, hope, and love be on my lips constantly.

  I pray this for you all as well.