Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Different Sort of Job Security

“Did you know your job exists because of sin?”

I blinked in surprise, marshalling the wandering bits of my mind to focus on this sudden announcement from my friend. “Say what?”

“The Tower of Babel. If it wasn’t for their sin and the dispersing of languages, you wouldn’t have a job.”

He turned back to his lunch, chasing a stray tomato with his fork. But my mind wasn’t drifting anymore.

John Piper says, “Missions exists because worship does not.”

Translating OT passages into Bontoc (Philippines)
 photograph by Daniel Peckham

It’s easy in our task-oriented, checklist culture to be excited by concrete goals, such as communicating all 31,000+ verses in the Bible in an unwritten language or trying to label every “unreached” people group so we can “accomplish the task.” But such math is not the point. The purpose of Bible translation is not simply to translate the text and leave the manuscript on a shelf.  Rather, it is to bring people into a true worship of God. My job is about people, not words. It’s about eternity, not alphabets.

There are only two things eternal in this earthly world: people and Scripture. Bible translation impacts both, as the Lord knew it would long before the disobedience at the Tower of Babel threw up linguistic barriers.

From the chaos, the Lord brings beauty, and even through the confusion of languages He is glorified. For, in heaven, rather than all speaking one exalted language, Revelation 7:9 proclaims that people from every tribe, nation, and language will stand before the throne praising God: a multitude of voices worshipping the Lord in a multitude of tongues.

My job won’t be needed. And I can’t wait.