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April 25, 2011 / beidson

Star Power and the Babel Tower: Why We Fall When We Want It All

The human heart is like a red carpet: we are always the star of our own lives.  In the unnoticed moments of our regular living, many times we are wishing we were noticed and that our lives were better-than-regular (speaking for myself . . .).

This longing to be noticed is not all bad.  Having friends and being a part of other people’s lives is significant.  There is a story unfolding, and we all want to know what is going on–we all want front row seats to the main event.

But a closer look at this craving reveals that our knack for being noticed is about much more than being a part of the story–it is often about being at the center of the story, on the red carpet, where everyone is taking notice of our accomplishments and appearance.

The brilliant citizens of Babel offer just such an example.  In Genesis 11 we read that they had built a skyscraper to shore up their significance, to “make a name for themselves.”  Lest they go unnoticed, they united themselves to make themselves immortal, forever remembered.  Like a long red carpet, the tower laid out a path from the lowly dust of the ground to the great eternal skies, where God himself was believed to dwell.  They were ascending; they would be noticed, even by God.

But God smashed their tiny tower, and he will smash our towers too if we think we must be noticed.  Our pursuit of star power is none other than the original sin: the arrogant attempt to ascend to the place of God, to know all, to control all, and essentially, to be at the center of all.

It is not a problem to be noticed; it is a problem to make a living of being noticed.  The engineers at Babel experienced the same sort of greed and groping we all experience; it is the perpetual plight of lost and forgotten sinners.  We all want to be noticed, to be significant, to do something great–we all long for God to know us and see our lives.  This desire is normal and good and is meant to lead us to Jesus, the one who takes notice of the forgotten.

But God will pay not attention to those who would ascend to him in a tower made by their own hands.  We must know God through Jesus Christ, the man who was lifted up on a cross stretching from the ground to the heavens–a man who is Jacob’s Ladder, reaching from our brick-and-mortar dwellings to the throne of God itself.

Cain got violent when Abel was noticed by God–he tried to hide his brother from God in order to take his place on the red carpet.  Judas, too, was foaming at the mouth for fame, even trying to jump start his success with thirty pieces of silver.  But Cain and Judas did not find what they were looking for.  When they made a move to have it all, God cast them down.

In God’s story, Jesus alone stands at the center of everything.

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