The fundamental flaw in man is as old as the Garden of Eden. We were made by God and for God; but in our rebellion, we want to live by ourselves and for ourselves. It’s the misdirection of our hearts that causes all the problems.
A Babel Illustration
A self-focused life is seen in bold relief in the earliest days of man:
Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:1-4 NASB).
It is natural of men, fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, to be creative. But notice the motivation behind this first construction project:
“Let us build for ourselves a city”
“Let us make for ourselves a name”
When our reason for any project leaves God out of the equation, we are in trouble, because man was not made for himself. C. S. Lewis, the Oxford agnostic turned believer, wrote precisely about this in Mere Christianity:
God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.
A Needed Confusion
When men are united in their self-consumed passions, they pose a powerful force for evil. Each man’s selfishness fuels those around him, creating greater independence and luring in whole generations. We can disciple many in self-consumption, creating followers, families, organizations, and governments that think God is not needed, vainly assuming we can build a whole world without Him.
A clear test for this pride is determined by one question: How much do we pray? If we think we can do anything without praying, it’s a clear indication we are dangerously independent.
God saw where this was headed in Genesis 11, and with one word from His mouth, He put a temporary stop to their united self-building project:
The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:6-7).
He removed one component, and the project died, and the people scattered. He had given them the gift of a united language that could have been used for great good. When they perverted its use, He chose to delete this blessing. God protected them, and the world in that moment, from further independence and sin.
There is a God-given, inherent power in unity. When men are united with God (looking to Him for God-initiated plans) and connected with each other (each one seeking not their own will, but the best interest of the whole), amazing, God-glorifying results occur. This is the Acts 2 church, overcoming evil and advancing God’s kingdom with swift, unstoppable force.
It would be wise for us to check our hearts on each project we desire to build, each step we take. Is its genesis from God? Is its underlying intent to glorify him or to build our reputation? It would be tragic for God to be forced to remove something from us that could have been used for such good.
Father, thank You for making us in Your image. Thank You for how mightily we can be used for Your glory when we are united with You. Make us one with You, Lord. Purify our motivations so that each step is taken for You alone. And then use us to advance Your kingdom rapidly for Your glory alone!