Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
“Welcome to the dawn of a new space age,” remarks Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson after his brief flight to Outer Space yesterday on board the VSS Unity. Space, the final frontier, once the domain of astronauts, scientists and fiction writers is now opening to anyone with the money to invest. It is a remarkable achievement by a private company and Elon Musk of Tesla will not be far behind. This flight hails the progress of the modern age.
On the other side of the world, I heard the story of Australian Aborigine people who have eschewed western notions of “progress” for their understanding of the goal of life to be seeking oneness with the creation as it is. Rituals have been designed through the centuries to celebrate what is and to hold communal life to the rhythm of the natural world without attempting change.
Westerners might scoff and call such Aboriginal thought primitive. Others might call the western thirst for intellectual and scientific progress arrogant, or idolatrous. I think we are called as people of faith to be grounded in Christ, stewards of the earth God has given to us. We are also invited to use the variety of gifts and talents that God has blessed us with, including the gift of curiosity that has led to exploration of space and discovery of healing vaccines.
Our family moved frequently throughout my childhood. I have carried on that pattern living in 25 different locations since high school. In addition, I have been blessed to travel to and explore well over 20 countries with multiple trips to the Holy Land and South Korea. It has been a sense of adventure and the joy of discovery that has kept me on the move throughout my adult life. On the other hand, I envy people who have lived in the same location their entire lives, where their roots grow deep. I have discovered that the excitement of adventure becomes empty without the grounding of community and the sense of deeper purpose. Endless personal achievements are vanity of vanities, King Solomon laments. The quest for new discovery, achievement, and excitement whether personal or societal without a grounded purpose can become destructive.
The builders of the Tower of Babel wanted to make a name for themselves. The people of God give glory to God for the many gifts and talents we receive. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human reward” (Colossians 3:23). May we freely use and develop all the intelligence, talents, and curiosity that God has put within us. I may want to go to space as soon as I have a billion dollars to spare! More importantly, I yearn to stay grounded in the love and purpose of the one who has called me by name, Jesus the Christ.
Marvelous God, you are beyond space and eternity, yet you are right here with us. Lead us to use the gifts, talents, and abilities you have put within us to make a positive difference in your world. May we remember whose we are, siblings of Jesus the Christ. Amen