In Genesis 11, our triune God intervened and confused the language of the people of Babel who were building for their own namesake. In their own effort and for their own merit, they were attempting to achieve security (a tower to protect them), community (a city with people), and identity (a name for themselves). Because of their selfish motivations and desire for these things apart from the grace of God, the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Ironically, in the next chapter the Lord graciously gives Abraham the same three things the people of Babel were attempting to build with their own strength. The Lord promised Abraham security (I will bless those who bless you), community (I will make you into a great nation), and identity (I will make your name great). Abraham, however, trusted God and not himself.
There is also an interesting leadership nugget in the text about the efforts of the people of Babel—a verse that has regularly grabbed my attention about the power of a group of people focused in the same direction.
“The LORD said, ‘If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”—Genesis 11:6
Obviously the Lord could easily frustrate their plans and accomplish His eternal purposes. Obviously the Lord does what He pleases as He gave Abraham, a man of faith, what the people of Babel couldn’t realize in their own efforts. But the verse does speak to the power of a group of people focused in the same direction, speaking the same language, and passionate about the same goals.
- A staff team with one mission, all speaking the same language, is strong.
- A team of people with one goal, one heartbeat, accomplishes much.
- A congregation united in the grace of God and passionate for their local community can be unstoppable.
If unity rooted in pride and sin is powerful, how much more so is unity rooted in the grace of God? Paul challenged the believers in Philippi to such unity: “that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). May our churches and ministries be rooted in true unity, unity built upon the matchless grace of our Lord.