Bishop's Message

Living beyond the Tower

THE notorious Tower of Babel was a human attempt to “make a name for ourselves”. (Gen. 11:4). In it was human pride and a sinful desire to live a God-free life. God saw that it was not only foolishness but that it also threatened the human race; He caused linguistic confusion among the people and they could not understand one another amid the din and babble of strange tongues. The building project was abandoned and a disaster of epic proportions was averted.

But the desire to build the Tower was never really abandoned in the human heart. That desire seems to be deeply embedded in sinful human nature. Modern civilisation, especially after the Enlightenment, represents fresh attempts to restore the Tower project. And it appears that God has allowed the project to go on. Today we live in that Tower.

Inside the Tower, we go on with the business of life – we buy, sell, fight, make peace, compete, win and lose. We are increasingly told by the Tower managers and experts that there is nothing outside the Tower. Old records of our ancestors – claiming that there is a world outside, that there is a sun and stars, a sky, clouds, and many other wonderful things to behold – are dismissed as nothing more than “medieval imagination”, the superstitious products of unenlightened minds. Reality is defined in terms of the Tower. What is in the Tower is real; everything else is wishful thinking.

Some popular writers, self-proclaimed Tower experts, have written off any other world outside the Tower. With atheistic zeal and misplaced confidence they dismiss the existence of God and a spiritual world outside the “real life” in the Tower. Many believe this increasingly popular lie. Even those who are religious and want to believe that there is something out there – live their daily lives as if it did not matter. Only what is in the Tower really matters.

However, there are some who have found the “windows”. There are places in the Tower where there are small openings in the walls; as to how they came about, there are many theories. But what is important is that those who have been to these windows have found that our ancestors were no fools. What they said is true indeed – there is a sky outside, a sun, stars, clouds, and a whole new world outside, unknown to most of the residents of the Tower.

But try telling this to the Tower-dwellers. They either laugh in disbelief or listen lightly, without changing the hurried pace and distorted rhythm of their lives. The sad thing is that even those who believe at first soon get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life in the Tower. Such is the power of the popular delusion. It is as if the Tower ideology has a hypnotic effect on all those who live in it.

The only way to resist this hypnotic effect is to go often to the windows. There you will find heavenly light piercing the darkness in the Tower. There too you will see the world as it was created by God, a world that is rich with the presence of God. At the windows, you will hear the divine voice, revealing, rebuking, forgiving, comforting, reassuring, guiding, and speaking the language of self-sacrificial love.

It is important that you do this frequently or else you may fall victim to the great delusion. If you live in the heart of the Tower, and drink deeply its messages, you will end up believing strongly that man is the creator of our

reality. We make our world; we have built all this; the future is in our hands – that’s the delusion. The Tower is a concrete jungle – a man-made jungle that drives home this message. To know the truth, you must get to the windows and realise that the true Creator is God. Look at the stars and the sky and be reminded. At the heart of reality is God; without Him, everything else is a hopeless illusion. Be a regular window-visitor, a regular sky watcher, and it will protect your soul.

There is a Book written by window-visitors. Though people in the Tower know about it, few read it seriously. Some study it as interesting literature, with an outdated moral framework and an uninformed but fertile imagination. But don’t believe them. Check it out for yourself. If you visit the windows, you will find out that it is true. If you read the Book with open ears and heart, you will hear the Shepherd’s voice. Be sure to read it carefully and live by what you hear.

Have you looked at ancient and medieval paintings? They depict reality in an interesting way. They not only show what is in the Tower, but also what is beyond it (for they come from a time when the Tower was not completed – the roof was not done yet, and one could still see the sky). You will typically find in these paintings that above the human city, there are angels, and far above are the Father and the Son. Below you may find malicious spirits trying to deceive or terrorise the city-dwellers.

Today, we easily dismiss these paintings as nothing more than art; forgetting that they also reveal reality much better than what we have today. It may do you some good if you hang some of these paintings where you work or live, so that you may be reminded of the world the windows reveal, and of the “rumours of angels”. A Methodist woman, financially poor but spiritually rich, wrote this in the 18th century:

I do not know when I have had happier times in my soul, than when I have been sitting at work, with nothing before me but a candle and a white cloth, and hearing no sound but that of my own breath, with God in my soul and heaven in my eye.

I rejoice in being exactly what I am – a creature capable of loving God, and who, as long as God lives, must be happy. I get up and look out of the window and gaze at the moon and start and think myself one of the happiest beings in the universe.

What a great discovery! She was not a prisoner of the Tower. God had freed her and she saw through the window and found true joy.

Let’s go tell the others. Or are you still imprisoned in the deep shadows of the Tower, without God in your soul and heaven in your eye?