This week at my church is the incredible, exciting, draining, and yet fulfilling event known as Vacation Bible School. VBS has always been an extra special time around here, and last night was just the beginning of what I am sure will be a fantastic week.
Last night in the Bible lesson we talked briefly about the Tower of Babel. Do you remember that one? It’s in the 11th chapter of Genesis if you would like to read it for yourself. (You probably should.) One of the neat things that I have experienced at just about every VBS that I have ever been a part of is that the truth shared is just as relevant for adults as it is for the kids.
Anyway, back to the Tower of Babel. Actually, the story is more about the people than the actual tower. You see, God has told mankind twice now in the book of Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:28, 9:1) It’s important for us to understand that God’s command to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth is about much more than just simply having babies. It is about obedience to God and making His name great.
The problem with the people of Babel? They chose not to obey God. The settled down instead of spreading across and filling the whole earth, and they tried to make themselves famous instead of God.
The ancient people ignored God’s instructions, clustered together, and tried to make themselves great.
Sadly, not much has changed.
People now, just like people then, have a tendency to ignore God’s clear instructions, cluster together in alike tribes, and make themselves great-often at the expense of others.
So, what do we, who have put our trust in Jesus, do about this? Or how should we respond?
We first start by looking in the mirror.
God’s Old Testament command is echoed in the New Testament when Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) God told Adam and Eve to reproduce in order to produce children who would know, obey, and love God. God now tells us to produce disciples who know, obey, and love Jesus.
But the temptation to cluster together and build a name for ourselves is ever-present. Sadly, at times, churches can be so focused on programs and events that they lose sight of what is truly important.
We cannot worry about increasing our church empires, we need to be focused on increasing His Kingdom.
Francis Chan has a pretty matter-of-fact quote “Christians are like manure: spread them out and they help everything grow better but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly.” Ouch.
The Bible is pretty clear that those who follow Jesus are to be lights in this dark and dying world. We need to shine in the dark and we cannot allow the comfort of our familiar tribe to prevent us from doing so.
Tribalism is a dangerous and unproductive thing and it has no place in the church of Jesus Christ.
Now, let me be clear, I am not advocating that we stop spending time with the people whom we love and are comfortable with. What I am saying though is, let’s be sure to be active in our love and Good News witness to people who don’t fit inside of our cookie cutter vision.
There are a whole lot of people in this world. Many of them do not look, think, act, smell, sound, or see things the way you do. That is O.K. Our objective is not to make people become just like us. Our goal is to show people how to become like Jesus.
I don’t want to make my name great.
I want to make His name great.