For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense. ― C.S. Lewis
It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. —St. Augustine
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, AMEN.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”(Gen 11:6-7, NIV)
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4, NIV)
PRAYER FOCUS: The Power of Pride or the Power of Love?
SCIENCE!!! “She blinded me with science, and hit me with technology…” (with apologies to 1980s recording star, Thomas Dolby)
The Babylonians were stoked. They had achieved a major breakthrough in science and technology. They had just discovered…the brick. They quickly learned that they could make bricks faster than they could cut rocks. Then they learned that by using bricks instead of rocks they could build a much larger structure, much faster, and with less investment. They were amazed. And they were very proud of themselves. In that day, they all spoke the same language, so they could congratulate themselves and everyone understood it.
They set about building a tower “to the heavens” to show God how smart and powerful they had become. The leaders of Babylon called for a national effort to support the Great Tower project. The people would be unified, they said.
It is no small irony that Genesis records that “the Lord came down to see the city and the tower…” (Gen 11:5, our emphasis) Turns out their fancy tower didn’t go all the way to heaven after all. But the Babylonians imagined it that way. They were using science and technology to build an earthly kingdom of crafty, evil, pride-filled men.
And that should give pause to men (and women) in any age, no matter how advanced their learning seems to be.
Had the Babylonians continued, they would never have been a threat to Almighty God, but like kids playing with matches, they were already becoming a threat to themselves. When God confused their language, it was an act of judgment, to be sure. But it was also an act of mercy.
In contrast, Pentecost is Babel reversed and undone. Babel was God’s judgment on the people who tried to unite against Him. Pentecost was God’s blessing in bringing people together for a purpose— people from every race, nation and language. Pentecost is God reversing the chaos and undoing the confusion of Babel. The message of people of Babel was: “We are gods!” The message of the people of Pentecost was: “We are God’s.”
1. At Babel, men displayed their faith in technology and learning. At Pentecost, mankind displayed their faith in God and in the promise of the Holy Spirit.
2. At Babel, men who were united in language became divided by it. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit reconnects human languages to His purpose.
3. At Babel we see mankind full of himself. At Pentecost we see mankind full of the Holy Spirit.
4. Babel brought destruction. Pentecost brought foundation. And every brick needs a solid foundation to rest on.
Is God against human knowledge and technology? Absolutely not. After all, we are created in His image, as creative, intelligent beings. The problem is not science, it is pride. God opposes any thing that leads us away from Him.
Pentecost marked the end of vain strivings, and the beginning of our joint efforts, not with each other, but with our Father-God. His Pentecost promise is to use us, not merely to build towers, but to build His Kingdom! He sends us as His witnesses to the ends of the earth. It works that way even now. God is willing. The Holy Spirit is willing. Are you? The ends of the earth are waiting.
It’s Monday Morning. This week, when you use the tools and products that challenge our imaginations, take a moment to remember the Tower of Babel and the consequences of pride. Don’t be blinded by science!