The Leaning Tower of Pisa was in the news again. No, it hadn’t toppled. The news was good. The 843-year-old tower (if dated from its groundbreaking in 1173) is “straightening itself out.”
If you recall, back in 1990 the tower was closed to the public. Its top leaned more than 15 feet from the perpendicular and engineers despaired of its survival. The engineers applied numerous solutions, most of them backfiring and causing the tower to lean even more.
The plan which finally worked involved the removal of earth from beneath the tower on the side opposite from the direction of its lean. Then engineers placed 800 tons of lead weights in the hole where they removed the soil. The removal of dirt and addition of weights succeeded in countering the tower’s lean by 18 inches, thus getting it out of the “danger zone.” This took place in 1998.
Now, 20 years later, engineers have announced that the tower, without the use of led weights, has “righted itself” by another inch and a half. They suspect that its present tilt will slowly correct itself.
Despite this good news, some people raised concerns. “Wait a minute. If the Leaning Tower no longer leans, then there will be nothing special about it. It will become just like any of the other ancient towers and cease to be unique. We don’t want a new ‘straight tower.’ We want the old tilted one.” Thus, the “good news” was met with some resistance.
But engineers explained that, even if the tower should correct itself and become perfectly perpendicular, it will still remain an oddity. Why? Well, it has to do with its construction. By the time builders reached its “second story,” it had already begun to lean to one side. To compensate for the tilt, they built the subsequent floors slightly taller on the leaning side. However, after long delays due to conflicts with other states, the tower settled deeper into the ground. In fact, the tower actually began to lean in the opposite, and present direction. To compensate for this the masons built the tower’s belfry taller on one side. Therefore, even if the tower should straighten itself, it will remain slightly curved and crooked.
When I read these articles, it made me think of the dynamics in a Christian believer’s own conversion. When Jesus first comes into a person’s life, a change will occur. From a biblical and moral perspective, this change is for the good. The Christian conversion experience often results in the “straightening out” of one’s life. Old, self-destructive habits are discarded. Now a few things characterize the believer’s life: self-discipline, a greater focus on one’s family, and a new interest in the things of God.
Yet despite this improvement in the believer’s life, his transformation is not always met with enthusiasm. Often his friends will prefer the old “former self” and reject the believer’s new “religious trip.”
It should not shock the Christian believer when his life-changing experience is met with resistance.
Consider the story of the demoniac in Mark 5:1-20. In this account Jesus casts out a “legion” of demons from a man who had terrorized the countryside. He was so violent that no one could subdue him. He lived in a tomb, wore no clothing, gouged his own body with rocks, and howled like a wild animal. But Jesus miraculously healed the man and restored him to his right mind. When the townspeople saw this positive transformation they became frightened and actually asked Jesus to go away. They had learned to live with the old demoniac and weren’t thrilled with the new person he’d become.
The same dynamics were at work when thousands in the city of Ephesus turned from witchcraft and idolatry to faith in Christ through the ministry of Paul (Acts 19:1–20). The city did not embrace this transformation for the good enthusiastically. Paul’s evangelistic efforts were hurting the idol-making industry of the local silversmiths. They became so enraged by this change that they instigated a riot against Paul (Acts 19:23–41). Therefore, it should not shock the Christian believer when his life-changing experience is met with resistance.
Dealing with Criticism
Yet, on the other hand, the Christian believer will often receive criticism for insufficient change in his life. You see, the ravages of sin from their previous life have left permanent scars on the believer. Even when their life is “straightened out” they—like that Leaning Tower—will still be far from perfect. They yearn for complete freedom from human weakness and frailty. But this will not happen until God resurrects the child of God. Only then will his battle against sin finally end. Though the inner person has been transformed and is renewed daily by God’s grace (2 Cor. 4:16–17), yet the redemption of the outer person (our body) is yet to come (Rom. 8:18–23).
Like the Leaning Tower, we will remain a bit curved and crooked in this life. This reality will be a steady source of grief to ourselves and criticism from others. Yet all we can do is to keep believing in God’s grace and Christ’s redemption. Jesus who began a good work in us will perfect and consummate it at His coming (1 Cor. 15:50–57; Phil. 1:6; 3:20–21; 1 John 3:1-3).
So do not be discouraged—when change comes and is met with resistance, or, if sufficient change fails to come and brings grief and criticism. Entrust yourself to God’s grace and unfailing love. Jesus’ blood is enough to cleanse you and His power is enough to save you eternally. Trust in Him forever.
Dear Father in heaven, I cast myself upon Your unfailing love, grace, and power. Save me for Jesus Christ’s sake, I pray. Renew me day by day, O Lord, and transform me into the glorious image of Your holy Son. Amen.
Information from: https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2018/11/24/leaning-tower-pisa-italy-nadeau-lklv-vpx.cnn
Article photo in order of appearance: Photo by hitesh choudhary from Pexels
151210-F-IH072-011 by the U.S. Air Force licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0