We’re back with more Travelin’ Tuesdays! At least, for the rest of June. All bets are off for July, when I’ll be spending time in at least 4 different states, 2 different countries, moving, and preparing to start a new job. But when Pentecost came around this past Sunday, I couldn’t help but think that this would be the perfect week to continue with the series, especially because we left off with the tower of Babel and language being broken.
Because on Pentecost, at least briefly, God decides to unite language again.
Ya’ll, when the people watching and listening to the disciples at Pentecost say, “They must be drunk,” for the longest time, I didn’t get that. If they could understand the words they were speaking in their own language, why would they think these men were drunk?
Let me tell you.
Here in Mexico, a lot of people speak “a little” English. That little bit of English multiplies when you’re a man trying to catch the eye of an American woman (“Hello beautiful! I love you!”) or when you’re drunk (they say surprisingly similar things, actually). Because if you speak “a little bit” of a language, you probably have some inhibitions about using it. But what does drinking do? Take away inhibitions. So people who previously would have said they didn’t speak your language suddenly can utter whole sentences (although about WEIRD things).
Which is exactly what those observers were undoubtedly hearing (WEIRD things). And so they say, “What does this mean?” even though they can understand the words. Isn’t it just like God to allow us to understand each other and just like us to not understand anyway?
At the tower of Babel, God separated languages because we were using our words to glorify ourselves. He knew that working together, understanding each other, we would forget Him and focus only on making our own name great. But our words were never meant for us, and He showed us that by creating different languages.
For hundreds, maybe thousands of years, people had had different languages, had to work and study hard to be able to understand each other and work together.
Why would God change his mind at Pentecost?
Perhaps because we finally had Someone to speak for us, or rather, to speak for Him.
If language was separated at Babel because we were using it for self-glorification, it was brought together at Pentecost because God can now speak through us for His own glory.
That’s what the gift of the Holy Spirit is! Our words were never meant for us- and now we don’t have to use them for us. We are able to use our words to glorify the One who created this world with a word because He lives in us.
So Peter stood up and he used his words to glorify God; and 3000 were added to their number that day. That’s not glory to Peter, Peter who denied Christ, Peter who doubted and fell in the sea after walking on water with Jesus. That’s glory to the Holy Spirit, a testament to His living and active presence inside of Peter.
Try as we might, throughout history, our words had never been enough, had never been about glorifying God. Not until God came down to be with us could we do this, because we are not capable of selfless language on our own.
The miracle of Pentecost is that we are not chained to ourselves anymore but freed in Christ and left with a Counselor who speaks for and through us.
May He be our every word and guide our every thought into eternity.