Summary: Christians often try to find acceptance and recognition by building towers for the world to admire instead of finding acceptance and love in Jesus Christ.
When I was in ninth grade, I vividly remember getting my first report card back. I slowly worked my eyes down the paper. A, A, A, and A. I had got a 4.0 Grade Point Average! I was pretty excited, but as soon as the excitement hit me, another thought crept into my mind. I thought to myself, “What if I kept this up? What if I got a 4.0 next time too?” Sometime after Christmas, we got our second report card, and sure enough, I got another 4.0. At this point, I began to wonder… “What if I kept this up all the way through high school and became the valedictorian!” And like that, my addiction began…
Our passage for today is from Genesis chapter 11, verses 1-9. It is about the Tower of Babel. Before the Tower of Babel, humanity’s history had certainly not been spotless. There was that whole fiasco in the garden, and things eventually got bad enough for God to flood the whole world and only save eight people. Sometime in between the flood and the introduction of Abraham, we find ourselves at the Tower of Babel. Let’s read together:
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 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 and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that they were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth. – TNIV.
FEAR OF ANONYMITY LEADS TO DISOBEDIENCE
Many times in our lives we are disobedient because of fear. For instance, elementary students will often do another student’s homework if that student happens to be the school bully. Many adults jump into the wrong relationships out of a fear that they will be alone all of their lives. Many Christians are disobedient in sharing their faith simply because of fear. Or out of fear of not being noticed, in a weird psychological twist, we act out, and we sin. The people of Babylon were no different.
God had told Noah in Genesis 9:1, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” However, the people of the earth were afraid. They were afraid to spread out and venture off on their own, so they decided to stick together in one place. They decided NOT to fill the earth. In fear, they were disobedient.
DESIRE TO BE KNOWN LEADS US TO BUILD TOWERS
There is an even deeper fear than the fear of being somewhat alone. It is the fear of being anonymous. The fear of being not known by anyone. Perhaps one of the deepest needs of all of humankind is to be known. The need to be known, to be recognized, to be noticed, starts early on. When children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, they often respond with careers such as the president, or an NBA player, or a doctor. Few respond saying that they want to work in a large office with 10,000 others where they will have a small 4 by 4 cubicle.
As we grow older, if this need to be known is not met in Christ, we will do anything to fill that void, to be known. For some, it starts in middle school or high school. It is the quest to be popular. The quest for popularity really is simply a search to be recognized. We feel that if we can make a name for ourselves we will be happy. I often have to remind my high school students that almost all of them have to deal with the desire to be popular. It doesn’t necessarily look like the homecoming king or queen for every student. For some, being popular is to be the kid who isn’t popular. But either way, it is still a search to be recognized.