Debabelizing the World

<!–[if !mso]>st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.  The go-to text for Pentecost Sunday is obvious: Acts 2:1-12.  The less obvious text that I love to highlight on Pentecost Sunday is the story of the Tower of Babel, found in Genesis 11:1-9.[1]

In the story found in Genesis, the people want to make a name for themselves and decide to build a tower to reach the heavens.  This selfish ambition angers God, so God confuses their language, making communication impossible and bringing their work to a halt.  God then scatters them across the earth.  

In Acts, however, God brings together people from all around the globe, people who speak different languages, and enables them to understand one another.  God takes what was once divided and brings unity so that they can effectively work together.
So what is God doing here? He’s “debabelizing” the world. Now, I just made that word up, so look for it in any Bible concordance or anything.[2]  God is taking His people and uniting them by reversing what occurred at Babel, by reversing the consequences of humanity’s own mistakes. 
And you know what?  This isn’t the only time that God debabelized the world.  God is always taking the confusion of the world, and turning it on its head to unify His people and to use His people to redeem the world. 
We serve a God who wants to take the ways of this world, to take the things that we’re comfortable with, to take the popular way of doing things, and debabelize them, flipping them upside down so that they line up with His way of doing things. 
This is how God works.
This is how God has worked throughout the history of the world.
And this is how God continues to work today.
The question is, “How are you allowing God to use you in debabelizing the world around you?” 
We have the opportunity to debabelize the world around us every single day.  Every time we are faced with a decision to do things the world’s way–to do things in a way that is more divisive than unifying–we have the opportunity to join God in God’s mission to redeem the world one decision at a time. 
In your workplace, you can one-up the barrage of jokes being slung around about your new coworker, or you can debabelize the conversation by breaking the cycle and becoming the peacemaker.
In line at the movie theater, you can respond with your natural instincts when someone cuts in line in front of you, telling this person where they should reallygo.  Or, you can debabelize the situation by praying to God for the courage and patience to shrug it off.
In your relationships, you can give in to the lie of the world that tells you that you need to be right, that you need to win this argument.  Or, you can choose to debabelize your relationship by out-serving your significant other and walking the road of humility instead.
One decision at a time, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity to join God in the redemption of this world, bringing unity and peace to those places and situations that are confused and scattered.   

[1] I am indebted to Michael Lodahl for first pointing this out to me in his book, The Story of God: A Narrative Theology.
[2] I actually looked this up after typing it and realized that it is actually a word, just not one that is used often, particularly not theologically… though it should be!

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