Social work, politics, religion and industry are all at work to build a community that lacks nothing. The Tower of Babel was built upon such a dream.
If community can come together with unity and purpose, men can be as gods. That sentiment still exists among some community builders today. We can build a ‘strong tower’ community simply by choosing to apply our best skills and cooperation. Everything we need is found within ourselves.
In the ancient story of Babel, the shared efforts ultimately lead to an epic breakdown in communication and splintered relationships. The half-built tower became a pile of rubble. The penultimate community builders became homeless.
As we fast-forward to the early church, we find a reversal of Babel’s principles. The early church starts in the upper room where God’s presence first unites a small church and then an explosive awakening of cross-cultural inclusion. Those things that separate and distinguish people by language and culture are infused with a God-centered unity. The rapid expansion of the early church had more to do with God’s empowerment than it did with human ability. The poor and vulnerable followers of Jesus had no advantage apart from God.
Church history has long lived in the tension between Babel and Pentecost. How quickly we stand with a prideful posture believing in our own strength. How slowly we answer Jesus’ high priestly prayer found in John 17, where He prays that we will be in unity with God and one another.