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Living in a State of Confusion

Prior to entering high school, my junior high guidance counselor told me if I wanted to attend college, I needed to take as many foreign language classes as possible. After four years of French and two years of Spanish in an honors class, mission accomplished. However, what if you went on a trip overseas during Spring Break and everything you learned in class was meaningless as every foreigner spoke too fast? I wouldn’t know as I never went, but this is likely what the residents of Babel experienced in the passage below.

Therefore the name of it was called Babel—because there the Lord confounded the language of all the earth; and from that place the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of the whole earth, Genesis 11:9.

My first full-time job after graduating from the University of Delaware was as a social worker. My official title was Workcamp Coordinator for the Methodist Action Program. One of my responsibilities was to help renovate the Spanish community center in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. I could pick up verbs like Mirar, “watch me; look what I’m doing.” Unfortunately, everything else was confusing, as I was unable to understand complete sentences.

Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy ([a]interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching). For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the [Holy] Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding]. But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies [who [b]interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching] speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation, 1 Corinthians 14:1-3.

Imagine if you were a skilled construction worker, building the tallest skyscraper in the world. After returning to work Monday morning, the people you spoke with daily at work were suddenly fluent in a completely different language. This Spirit of Confusion was like Hooked on Phonics on steroids. Despite this setback in the Old Testament, the Day of Pentecost mentioned in Acts 2:1-6 repaired this communication barrier. As the apostle Paul describes in the passage above, this unique gift does present itself to some in the form of spiritual gifts to overcome living in a state of confusion.

by Jay Mankus


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