I’m pretty sure I would have been the one to lay the cornerstone for the Tower of Babel.
My Personal Tower of Babel
I didn’t always think this. In my blind pride, I used to read the story in Genesis 11 and think, “Good night moon! These people are really thickheaded!”
But here’s how I know I could have been the one to place that stone; I have thought to myself what they said out loud at Babel,
“…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4, NIV)
I confess, I have wanted to make a name for myself.
I have craved all the glory for a job well done.
I have thirsted for all the recognition for doing “good” deeds.
I have hungered, above all else, for the love and approval of people.
Though these are broad examples, you can probably imagine some specific ways these general desires might manifest in my life or maybe even in yours.
The truth is, all of the craving and thirsting and hungering leaves me empty no matter how much I receive. And leaves me in shambles when receive none. This name for myself is a dangling carrot that is never caught, and like an addiction, always leaves me grasping for more. More glory, more approval, more…
It never satisfies.
It is exhausting.
But I know that an exhausted, unsatisfied, shamble of a life is not what Jesus means for any of us. He says he “came that they may have life, and hive it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)
Jesus says there is more.
That more is this truth:
In vain, I have searched the scriptures trying to find justification of building myself a tower; for making myself a name. It isn’t there.
But, I did find a Name. It just wasn’t mine.
“My name will be great among he nations from where the sun rises to where it sets… my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 1:11, NIV)
I found God’s name.
He says His name WILL be great.
One example in particular struck me hard. Jesus calls for God the Father’s name to be glorified.
“Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28, NIV)
I claim to be a follower of Jesus. What have I not been following Jesus in this? I’m struck with this discrepancy in my Christianity. The truth is that I have been so occupied elevating my name, that I lost sight of the only Name that is worthy elevation.
Searching the scripture, I found that everything I am and everything I do is actually for the glory of God’s name, not my own.
I am created for the glory of His Name.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV)
Not that the task of elevating His name is mine to bear with my deeds or my life. Oh no, God is not depending on my performance to make His name great. What trouble He would be in if He were to depend on me with my false tower of Babel building and other missteps!
It is freeing to worship a God who is so powerful, He needs nothing from me. He needs nothing from me, yet He offers me a place to work by His side. He is a God who gives and has no need to take.
Now that is One whose Name is worthy of glory. Not mine.
So, I have come to the point where I am earnest about tearing down the idol I’m pointlessly trying to build of making a name for myself. I’ve been asking God to change me. To crumble my personal Tower of Babel. And because He gives, God is changing my heart to not just want, but to actually crave to place God and His Name in the rightful place: glorified above all else. And I am enjoying the freedom that comes from it.
John the Baptist is an inspiring example of one who did not seek to make a name for himself. Ironically, he did in a way have a name for himself. People came to him to be baptized and forgiven of their sins. He actually had his own disciples!
Then Jesus comes on the scene.
When people around John see that those who were his disciples are leaving to become followers of Jesus, they say, “…-look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26, NIV)
John replies, “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him… He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30, NIV)
Now, instead of thinking what those at the Tower of Babel said aloud, “…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” I think I need to start thinking what John the Baptist said aloud.
“He must become more, I must become less.”
I’m trying to filter my actions and thoughts through this one question: How can I make more of Him and His Kingdom and less of me in this situation?
I am Free
With this in the front of my mind, I am free in Christ to serve Him. Free from the weight of bearing a name that I can never obtain because I was not created to bear a name. I can just be me.
I am free to be nothing because He is everything.
I am free to fail because He has already succeeded.
I am free to be rejected because He accepts me.
I am free to be me, when I recognize God for Him: Glorious.
I am realizing that this is where my cravings, thirst, and hunger for a name will be satisfied. It’s not in trying to fit into a role I was not created for. Much like pants that are too tight, I’ve been uncomfortable in my misplaced striving to make a name for myself. But in starting to live to make much of Christ who loves me and you more than His own life, I feel as though I’m slipping into my favorite jeans. It fits well.
Cravings are ceasing.
Thirst is quenching
Hunger is fleeing.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NIV)
Jesus, I come to You and I place Your Name high.
In what ways do you make a name for yourself over making much of Christ?
If you can’t think of any, ask the Lord to reveal to you if you are missing anything. I am asking Him that too.