The US is not the biggest country in the world, not by landmass, not by population. Just like other countries our size and bigger, there are some weird things that happen as you change states, regions, and sometimes even counties. There is a certain section of Washington that adds an “r” so that Washington becomes Warshington or washing becomes warshing. It’s an oddity that has even others of those born and raised in Washington confused.
There are certain things one can say in the Western states that one avoids saying in the Eastern states. There is definitely a divide between the Northern states and the Southern states in regards to language. Sometimes the differences are functional, sometimes they are just some differences that bubbled up as languages and peoples came together or divided.
Sometimes, even more strangely, is that when a number of people come together and form a new language, that becomes even more confused and nuanced. The internet, and all things connected through it, is like that now. New ways of communicating (emojis and abbreviations) are being used and often very misunderstood. There are even manufactured languages (Esperanto, Klingon, for example). We are constantly looking for new ways to communicate.
The fall of the Tower of Babel echoes this need but in reverse. Humanity had this universal language. Humanity could communicate apparently quite well. Humanity, however, had lost its praising of God and now wanted to become God. Perhaps, even more than the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, this short story of the Tower of Babel illuminates the fallen human heart.
As with many things in the Scriptures, though, redemption still breaks through. Paul comments that the church (the Body and Bride of Christ) is made of many parts. Humanity is made of many parts and many languages. God is not limited by “the many”.
Arguably, God is actually more glorified by the many differences that make up humanity and its languages. There are a few (sadly, too few) Christian worship songs that can cross language barriers, where one can translate the original language into a different one, and still keep the meter and rhythm. Hearing a song you know sung in a different language and still being able to sing along is a beautiful sign of what God can do.
It is humanity that is divided by language, people, skin color, nation, or ideology. The Holy Spirit speaks through all of God’s people that they can sing praises to God from the depths of their hearts the best way they know how.
- Where are places you have seen the division of humanity bring glory to God?
- How do you see divided humanity overcome its divisions?
- Do you think artistic activities are better able to overcome the differences than non-artistic? Why are why not?
Lord, we recognize that we are divided. Through the Holy Spirit we are not called to be united, we are united through. Transform our lives so that they match what the Spirit has done. Amen.