Man’s attempt to be one with God is never-ending. We all have this innate desire to be great, powerful, and above all. We idolize heroes like Superman – with god-like strength and power; vigilantes like Batman, who are above the law; and politicians, who wield power over the most arbitrary decisions in our lives. This idolization comes from a desire to be more than human, or at least to dominate some part of our lives. We idolize strength and power, even in our brokenness. Often those that feel weakest can wield an incredible strength that is used to the detriment of themselves and those around them.
The insecure and powerful build their towers of Babel in a way to be even with God. Those unstable and strong feel inadequate to commune with the Most High, despite their desire to be one with him. In his attempt to communicate with Yahweh, man builds incessantly to establish his foothold in the Kingdom of God. Yet in building these man-made kingdoms, they cannot see that their domain is destitute, poor, and corrupt. In their ambition to build to the pinnacle of the Most High, man has ignored all of the callings of God to lay low and join in his Kingdom. Mankind decided that the invitation to a new kingdom was too costly than building one of his own. How can we honor God if we do not build a stronghold as mighty as his? How can we show the Most High that we are worthy of the Kingdom if we do not firmly entrench our own by the sweat of our brows? How will the Lord of Hosts know that we are justified and ready for the intimacy that he provides?
How often are we as men caught in a place where we build our lives in a way that is geared to the success of God but is clothed in our successes? We construct these kingdoms upon the bodies of those we crush to ascend to heaven. We work so hard to earn the affection of God because we do not feel that we could ever accept his invitation into his Kingdom. He’s invited us to hang out with him, talk with him, and be comforted by his love. He offers us the inheritance of cattle on a thousand hills, and the richness of the universe and all that is required of us is that we give our lives to him.
This sacrifice is what we cannot do. There are many examples of this. The rich young ruler could not abandon his riches to get into heaven; Judas couldn’t give up his love of money to protect his lord. However, poor fishermen gave up their lives to follow this man. The rich find it hard to get to heaven. The same applies to those that have built their lives on the precarious perch of successes and notoriety. They cannot give up the successes that they have amassed because their treasure is in this world. Indeed, this is where their heart lies, because they have attached their worth to these possessions.
Even in my life, I’ve worked to build my Towers of Babel. Through fear that I would never be enough, I turned to intelligence and wit to make me like God. I devoted my power and strength to make an impact for his Kingdom – without his help. I wanted to change the lives of people on my own, to prove to God that I was worthy of his kingdom. All of this was rooted in the insecurity that I was not worthy of heaven. This is no fault of teaching I heard, no fault of anyone in my life. It was only the failure of a fallen world that seeks to wage war against our souls. I neglected relationship with him because I wanted to be a doer for him. I felt that I was useless if I could not justify my worth to his kingdom by my strength and power.
Indeed, I was useless. In my attempts to pave the way for God in my heart I neglected the God I claimed to serve. I fulfilled my flesh and my power over his because I did not believe that God could make me better. Even if I knew it in my mind, my heart drew me away from him because the lack of security I had in my faith, self, and knowledge. I collected things, skills, hobbies, distractions, and much knowledge to show myself I could be enough.
We destroy so much in our lives by attempting to build our Towers of Babel. Our families are ignored or manipulated, and our friends mistreated. Loved ones are forgotten in the shadow of our insecure ambitions. We seek after a kingdom that is built on sand, so all of our emotional strength and energy goes into maintaining something that is fleeting and false. My inability to be honest with myself and to understand that people matter more than my accomplishments hurt more than anything else. My equanimity with God was the most important objective. All else was counted as loss. I did all of these things out of fear of never measuring up to a God that made the universe.
I only recently understood that I’ve always been enough. I also understood that I could also never be enough. It is this dichotomy that exemplifies the kingdom of God. We are born broken, inept, filled with sin, and sentenced to death. We are born into failure. However, God has loved us enough and valued us as we are. He values us so highly that he made way for us to emerge out of this sin and shame in our hearts – and come to communion and relationship with him. He established a plan that would take our nothingness, ineptitude, and loss, and equip us in our brokenness with the strength to reach those who are lost, love those who are unlovable, and bring healing to those that are broken.
In our brokenness and humility, God sees beauty and greatness. In our insecure attempts to be equal with God, we draw away from the one who gives us strength and value. His love for us will never waver, while those around us will. Even our love for ourselves will falter, but his will not. We seek unity and closeness with God by building our kingdoms – when the only thing we truly need is to rest in the shade of his accomplishments. Our small towers and strongholds could never match the majesty and beauty of the one true King. For all our effort and desire, we fall short. All we need is to draw a little closer to him, stop building our own kingdoms and realize that we are made whole and robust in him. That is a liberating truth.
We seek unity and closeness with God by building our kingdoms – when the only thing we truly need is to rest in the shade of his accomplishments.