When the people in Genesis chapter 11 gathered together they had one thing going for them that was really good. They had unity. They shared a common language, they shared a common value system, and they shared a common goal. In the corporate American world they would have been poised for success. There was one problem. They had inverted the process of knowing God. They were trying to build a tower that would connect them with God. That sounds silly to our modern minds, but in the ancient world they believed that God lived just above the celestial dome of the sky. If they could just build a tower tall enough then they could be at an equal standing with God and they would “have a name for themselves.”
What they failed to realize is that God cannot be reached by human effort. God has to do the reaching down. There is no tower tall enough, no religious system perfect enough, no human righteousness good enough to “reach” God. God must reach down to us and we must accept His terms for knowing Him. Otherwise we will mess it up. When humans build the tower you end up with Facism and goose stepping Nazis. When humans build the religion you end up with the Inquisition and bloodshed.
Jesus’ second command was to love your neighbor as yourself. This is impossible unless it is preceded by the first command. We must first love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Then, and only then, are we even able to love our neighbors. To love God is to acknowledge that there is a knowable God that is more than a fuzzy notion or a non-personal force. To love God is to first learn about God and who He is and who He is not. To love God is to realize that God has established parameters for His creation and expects obedience from His children. To love God is to allow God to kill our own ambition and self-desire and be filled with His love which was fully demonstrated in Jesus. Then, when we are filled with His love, we can overflow that love and truly love those around us.
Today, ask yourself, “Am I building a tower, or am I letting God call the shots?” This is a deep and difficult question that may take years to unpack. Part of the journey of spiritual formation is to allow God to dismantle the towers that we so readily build and break us of our pride. Allow God to bring out His wrecking ball in your life today.