Higher Power or Higher Tower?

by Tad Lindley

For 16 years I was very active in Alcoholics Anonymous. In the beginning, before the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, had been written, the oldtimers told me they had the Bible at meetings. Since the primary purpose of AA is not eternal salvation, it is to stop drinking and to stay sober, the Bible was dropped so people from non-Christian and non-Jewish backgrounds would have access to the program. In case you are unfamiliar, below are the first three of the 12 steps of AA:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

A Higher Power

It is from the second step that we get the term, Higher Power. If you’ve been to AA meetings you’ve heard people use the term “Higher Power” the same as people use the word, “God”. For instance, “…my Higher Power, who I choose to call Jesus Christ.” Sometimes you’ll hear the misguided advice, “Your Higher Power could be a doorknob, or a coffee cup.” Those things are not greater than me or you. Whether we believe it or not, we all have a Higher Power, and that Higher Power is made known to us through the pages of the Bible.

A higher tower

In the Bible we read the history of our ancestors after they got off the ark. They had been instructed by God to be fruitful and multiply and to spread out over the entire earth (Genesis 9:7). Being descended from Adam and Eve, they were disobedient to God. They multiplied, but instead of repopulating the earth, they stuck together. Not only did they stick close together, but they decided to make a tower that was higher than anything else on earth. Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-4)

The sin of having a Higher Tower

The moment we try to exalt ourselves above God, we are in deep trouble. The devil was actually at one time an angel of music, but he tried to make himself higher than the Lord (Isaiah 14:12-14) as a result he was cast out of heaven. King Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself above God, and went insane for 7 years (Daniel 4). Likewise when we think that we can lift ourselves up above God by our own ideas and our own understanding, we are on very dangerous ground indeed. In fact many of us have suffered painful consequences for thinking that we knew better than God.

John says, “Tear down my tower, lift up his Power!”

One of my favorite verses of scripture is the words of the late John the Baptist. He had sized up his own humanity and compared it with the greatness of the Mighty God in Christ and he said, He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). The NIV translates it like this, He must become greater, I must become less. If we would be delivered from our sin, and at the end of this life be saved, we have no other option than to tear down our higher tower and lift up our Higher Power!

Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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