- "So that We May Make a Name for Ourselves" - What are you living for? What is your dream? Does it involve you becoming well-known or famous for some skill that you have? Do you want to be respected for your accomplishments?
The people living in the plain of Shinar in Genesis 11 wanted to be famous and respected. They built a city with a tall tower in order to make a name for themselves. They were prideful and were working to gain the admiration of others.
But God didn't see that as a worthy life goal. He had something different in mind for these people living in the plain of Shinar, so to make them forget their dream of fame and respect, He confused their language. They couldn't cooperate with each other anymore and had to abandon their project.
What does God have planned for you? Is it fame and respect, or is something more meaningful He wants you to work toward?
Just like the people living in the plain of Shinar, if you are not in God's will, He will not bless you in your work and may even work against you to bring you back to a true sense of purpose.
But if you are living in God's will and working toward something truly worthy, He will bless you, work with you, and help you to accomplish what you've set out to do.
- "Otherwise, We Will be Scattered" - The people living in the plain of Shinar in Genesis 11 were a wise people. They were looking to and planning for the future. They knew that they would one day have enemies, so to protect themselves, they built a city with a huge tower in it. This tower would provide a look-out for approaching forces, and intimidation against those forces.
No one would attack such an impressive city. By building this wonder, they would ensure their safety.
How do you ensure your safety?
Do you perform for others, putting your most winning smile on, in order to avoid rejection? Do you avoid making new friends, or avoid intimate relationships to keep your feelings safe?
Do you seek to show others how skilled and accomplished you are in order to keep your place at work and your finances secure?
Do you find security in your home or your family, your good looks or your personality, your work ability or your intelligence, your morality or Christian reputation?
The people living in the plain of Shinar had a plan to protect themselves. They didn't want to be scattered by their enemies.
But that plan backfired. In Genesis 11:8, we read that God scattered them - not their enemies - when He confused their language.
Why did God scatter them? Why didn't He instead praise their wisdom for planning ahead?
Because they tried to find security in themselves rather than God. Nothing we do can keep us safe. We can't control anything in this life. We're going to get hurt. Bad things are going to happen to us. Very often the things we try to do to ensure our own security will end up causing the very problems we were trying to prevent.
The only way we can ensure our security and peace of mind is to trust our eternal safety to the One who does have all control, and rely on Him - not ourselves - to give us the strength to stand up to life's difficulties. Let us not trust our own strength or wisdom, but find our courage and peace in Him.
- An Open City - In Genesis 11, the people living on the plain of Shinar built their city as a way to defend themselves against being scattered by future enemies. But what if instead of defending against possible enemies, they had built their city to welcome potential enemies?
What if they had invited everyone in instead of trying to keep people out? What if instead of wanting to be known for their tower, they had set their sights on being known as a safe haven and a welcoming home to anyone who needed it?
What if instead of building a tower that reached to the heavens, they focused on being a community that pointed to Heaven?
What if we tried to be more welcoming in our own lives? What if we let down our emotional defenses, stopped showing off with false pride and bravado, and just let people in? What if we focused on having real relationships with co-workers, strangers, and even our enemies? What if we opened ourselves, completely, to anyone?
Like the people of Shinar, we might be attacked, we might be hurt, we might be taken advantage of if we let ourselves be that vulnerable.
But we also might gather people to ourselves in genuine comradery like never before. That degree of vulnerability is what Jesus used to gather His community. He opened Himself - was hurt - and was triumphant. From the start, Jesus knew that any pain He suffered, including emotional pain, was worth it for the sake of inviting others to Himself.
Will you invite others to yourself? Will you let them see the open, defenseless you, so that perhaps they can be open and defenseless with you? Will you be a tower of emotional vulnerability pointing to Heaven?
- nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them