The Long Journey Home: Man’s remedy for wandering

Aaron Gesch

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”    
— Genesis 11:4 -
Have you ever doubled down on stupid? Be honest. You know what I mean. You’ve tried something that doesn’t work but for whatever reason known only to you, you refuse to change course, refuse to admit your error or failure and are determined to just try harder and put more energy into something that has repeatedly not worked. This attitude is the epitome of the sinful heart of man that refuses to acknowledge and turn to God. It is the heart of the stubborn 2-year-old who vows to “do it myself!”
In Genesis 11, we see man’s continued determination to live outside of God’s design for him. Remember that man is designed to live in relationship to God, to live for Him and bring Him glory.  And it is in this right relationship vertically to God that he then enjoys the right relationship horizontally with his fellow man and the creation and flourishes. But man is determined to do it on his own, to operate outside God’s design and purpose because he wants some of the glory for himself.
And so in this story in Genesis, we see man, determined not to look up and acknowledge God, deciding instead that they will work together to “make a name for ourselves” and find their own solution to the restless “wandering” brought on by their disconnection from God. What is fascinating in this story is that God sees what they are trying to do and acknowledges the possibility of their success, at least in part. God has blessed man with great ability and capacity for the purpose of carrying out his design, but knows that capacity and ability pointed away from God and distorted by man’s pride and man’s sinful purpose will only hasten his ruin. He acknowledges that if they work together as they have been designed to do, that very little will be impossible for them. They will be able to achieve almost anything that they put their minds to … and yet He also knows they will not be able to achieve that which is most important. They will not be able to achieve life. Life is found only in Him. They will not be able to reconnect with God, no matter how hard they try or how much they put their minds together. But he also knows that in their pursuits they will remain deceived and distracted and miss their greatest and most critical need. So in mercy, God intervenes and creates confusion and division among them, scattering them.
Today our culture has doubled down on stupid. And like the people in Genesis 11, we are seeking to put our heads together and figure out life without God. To figure out with technology and medicine and innovation how to “make a name for ourselves.” We continue to believe the lie that somehow we can eclipse the brokenness of sin and all its negative consequences and make life for ourselves without God. And God in mercy continues to show us the futility of this empty pursuit. The question for you and me is whether or not we see the futility and in humility will look up and stop doubling down on stupid. And receive life, not by our own hand or collective effort, but through the gracious offer of life through Jesus who said “I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
(Aaron Gesch is pastor of Basin First Baptist Church.)