Do Not Worry About Your Greatness - You Have Christ!

Text: Genesis 11:1-9

In the name of Jesus. Amen.


The people of Genesis 11 were on a mission to become great – to defy the limitations of life. The people of Babel set out to build something – a tower. It was to be a focal point of their greatness. It was to reach the heavens to signify man’s greatness and perhaps serve as a place of safety to survive another worldwide flood.


Oh, how things have not changed! We play the same game as the people of Babel.


Dear friends, take a step back consider all the energy that is expended, all the grandiose ideas we hear, and all the plans that we make in this life to try and never grow old, never die, seek to defy the threats of nature, and make a great name for ourselves. Consider how we try to become masters and commanders of the universe. Oh, how the spirit of Babel lives on. 


We humans can’t help it, it seems. We just love the spirit of Babel because apart from God, we detest the idea of our mortality and our weaknesses in this life. And so, we set out on this mission to advance our so-called revolutions to improve the human race and make mankind the great god of the universe.  


If you read history, you will see the spirit of Babel in every generation. Yes, in every generation, zealous youth who are na├»ve to the reality of death, as well as powerful politicians who are afraid of death, will join forces to fix the problems of life. With bold plans, they will seek to create a world where we are protected from the threats of ‘mother nature.’ They will seek to create a world where mankind is in control of the past, present, and future. They will seek to create a world where man is in control and mankind is exalted for their achievements.  (Keep in mind that typically what is at the center of all these plans is some bold tower – some bold solution or icon that praises the name of mankind and unites everyone in a feeling of belonging.)   


Now, even though these missions, revolutions, and ideas seem very good, they are – in reality - very demonic. They are demonic not necessarily because they are trying to make life better but because at their center is not the name of God but mankind’s name wrapped in smug pride. The spirit of Babel naively tries to create a perfect world that is absent of God with mankind’s name at the very center.


To make sure we understand the spirit of Babel, let us hear our Old Testament reading one more time, with emphasis: 


“Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower . . . let us make a name for ourselves.”     


Now, did you hear it? The tower was not built for God or His Church but built for themselves. It was not even built for the name of God but for their very own name. The people of Babel attached their name to the structure to commemorate their greatness. They built a tower to serve as a rallying point of mankind’s elaborate schemes to advance the human race and live with complete independence from the threats of nature and God Himself. The spirit of Babel makes mankind very big and God very small – no, that is not true; it centers on mankind’s name and eliminates God’s name entirely.  


Now, as we think about this, we have to admit that the spirit of Babel is quite contagious, is it not? It is everywhere in our world, and even here, right in this church. Who among us does not like to be high and lifted up, looking down on others, saying,


           “Look at us up here!”


Who of us does not like feeling famous, safe, and happy – wanting everything to be right while being quite pleased with the lives we think we have built with our own hands?  


How often do we expect people to bow to our greatness or get offended when people do not recognize our contributions to the church and world?  


How quick are you and I to take credit for the good things in life while blaming God for the bad things in life?  


How often do our solutions in life leave God out of the equation – as if this life could be a better place if the morons in the world would just step it up, like us? 


Dear friends, may we all repent! Every-single-one-of-us! Yes, we need to repent because the tower of Babel has fallen. It does not remain standing today. God confused the language of those at Babel. And the tower of Babel no longer exists because the endeavors, missions, and goals of mankind are like dust. They whither. They fade. They do not last. For example, do you remember the 29th president of the United States? Do you remember the name of your great-great-grandfather? Do you remember the greatest emperor of Rome? How about the Second World Series Champions, or the 1972 NBA MVP, or the 1998 Academy Award Winner for best actor, or the 53rd Annual Grammy Winner for the best female artist?  Do you remember? I don’t. And frankly, nobody remembers either. Nobody remembers what happened yesterday. And the things that will happen tomorrow? Don’t count on those things being remembered either. To the point, all our puny towers and little names do not last and will not be remembered. 


All of this begs the question: if the spirit of Babel is like dust, why are we so addicted to the spirit of Babel? Why do we expend so much energy to build our little towers and try to make our name great? We should already know that we are just not that great. We are just not that special. We should already know that the Lord always opposes the proud. The Lord is against the arrogance of mankind, 


In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul understands our foolish desire for the spirit of Babel. He actually confronts it to show us just how pathetic, vain, and useless it is. Let me paraphrase Paul, 


“Stay away from those religious busybodies who are full of hot air. All they are interested in is appearances – trying to climb to the top to wave their credentials around as if they are something special!  


You know my credentials, don’t you? I am from the elite tribe of Benjamin. I have been a strict and devout adherent of God’s Law. I have observed everything meticulously. I have walked the walk and talked the talk more than anyone else. If anyone has reason to brag, I have more. If anyone thinks they are high up, I am higher. I have more reason to brag than you!


But all these things that I have accomplished? Well, I’ve thrown them in the trash. They are worthless. They are on the same level as horse dung and cow manure and dirty diapers of babies. They are skubala compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ and Christ knowing me.”


Baptized Saints, the reason why we are so addicted to the spirit of Babel is that this is the way of our sinful nature. It is also what happens when we do not have the surpassing worth of knowing Christ and Christ knowing us.  


Think about it for a moment! Christ Jesus never withers or fades because He has existed before time and will exist after time. And what Jesus accomplished at the cross and empty tomb? It was not just a local event for a local time for local people – something that can easily be forgotten. It happened for the whole world and for all time and for all people. And so, the gates of hades will never erase the good news of Christ crucified and resurrected for the forgiveness of sins. It simply cannot be forgotten.


And Christ? Even though He has ascended above all things to the right hand of God the Father, Jesus, though, is never too big or too divine to forget you. That is to say, Christ made you in the first place. And so, don’t be afraid; He bled for you and died for you and rose for you. He calls you by your name. You belong to Him and He to you. When you go through death, Christ will be with you. When you are buried six feet under, He will not forget you. And when you muddle through this life, He is for you with forgiveness, life, and salvation. 


And so, even though the world plays the games of Babel – building towers and competing to have a name – you Christians do not need to play the games of Babel, for you have Christ and Christ has you.  


Listen up! You do not need to compare, grade, or compete at the game of Babel because the whole game is insignificant compared to Christ. 


Listen up! You do not need to go through life with an inflated head – walking around as if you are high and mighty!  You need not worry about your name, your greatness, or the size of your towers. You need not do any of this because you already have the high privilege of knowing the One who defeated the world, death, and the devil – Christ. 


Baptized Saints, dump the spirit of Babel in the trash! You have been purchased by Christ! Besides, the spirit of Babel is a petty and inferior brand of righteousness compared to Christ.  


Baptized Saints, take comfort! You do not need a tower; you do not need to make a name for yourself. You have Jesus, and Jesus knows your name. And unlike Babel, Christ’s kingdom will not fail, His name endures, and His grace is sufficient for you in this life and into eternity.  


In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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