“Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
That sounds pretty good, huh? A call for all men to come together, work for the common good and love each other. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Thousands of years ago, on the plains of Shinar (probably in modern-day Iraq), people wanted the same thing. It was shortly after the Flood, and people migrated from the east, all speaking the same language. It was probably a guy named Nimrod who said, “Look, let’s stay together, build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches into the heavens. We need to make a name for ourselves, establish ourselves so we won’t get spread out over the face of the whole earth.” And they set about to do just that.
I’ve come to realize that most people don’t spend a lot of time reading about biblical history, ancient religions and stuff. But I do. (I know-get a life!) There’s no way to get into it all right now, but let me just say that there are scholars, theologians and the like who believe that that city was built and centered around religion. A religion that, many contend, is the mother of all paganism. Spreading throughout Canaan, and eventually evolving and morphing into some of the religions we have with us today. (“The Mother of Harlots”?) I could go on (I’m resisting the temptation to do so.), but the gist of the point I’m trying to make is that these people wanted to establish humanity as one “tribe,” unified, and even religious. But they wanted nothing to do with God. The worship of the Creator, the God of the Flood (an event from which they weren’t that far removed) was exchanged far the worship of man and creation.
Most of us know at least part of this story- The Tower of Babel. God came down, confused their language and dispersed them over the face of the earth. Our quest for a one-world, anthropocentric system of governance and religion was thwarted-for the time being. But we weren’t (and still aren’t) done by a long shot. But fortunately, neither was God.
Enter Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus arrived, ushering in the kingdom of God. His life, death and resurrection hailed the summing up of all things in himself. And he promised that, upon his return to the Father, he would send the Spirit of God to fill and empower his disciples. This happened on the day of Pentecost. As on the plains of Shinar, the disciples were all gathered in “one accord.” But this gathering was not centered around man, but on the Son of God who became flesh. As the Spirit was poured out, instead of man’s language being confused, the languages of men were made one. People from every nation under the sun could hear the disciples declaring the mighty works of God in their own tongues. True unity was experienced as men and women from around the globe became one- a new holy race in Jesus.
I believe that today we find ourselves once again on “the plains of Shinar.” And if you listen, you can hear the rumblings of “the beast.” Mankind again longs for one “tribe,” unified, and even religious. But like our ancient ancestors, the people desire a one-world, anthropocentric system of governance and religion. A system that rejects the one true God. But it is only in Jesus that men can experience true unity. For it is in him alone that we are made complete. All of us one, “just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
The Tower of Babel is turned upside down by the power of Pentecost as the Spirit of God continues to fill the hearts of men and women, revealing the reality of Jesus, and our holy oneness in him.