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November 2013

Tower of Babel

Genesis 11 tells the story of when the whole world had one language. The people, wanting to make a name for themselves, decided to build a city with a tower that would reach the heavens. This would help them stand as one and not be scattered on the earth. The Lord decided to stop this by confusing their language so they couldn't work together. And he scattered them over the face of the earth.

What strikes me is that this "fix" seems to be designed to be temporary. The desire or drive to make a name for themselves didn't stop. There was just a language barrier. One that, over time, has become weaker and weaker. At this point in time, it is extremely weak. We can translate web pages on the fly. We have mobile devices that translate languages. And we still want to make a name for ourselves.

God's answer for his people is completely different than what he did with the world. We are to have the same language as everyone around us, but with a different heart and spirit. In the world, but not of the world. Instead of being scattered, we are integrated into everything around us, but not in unity with everything around us. And this often causes conflict. Our unity is with our Father in Heaven.

Matthew 10:34-39
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."

Hebrews 13:11-14
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

The scriptures above address our heart, our motives, our affections. The way we think. When God's people are full of power and walking in authority we will take up our cross and follow him. The mark of a Church walking in power and authority is that they have left the camp and are bearing the disgrace Jesus bore. And they are helping others to leave the camp and bear the disgrace of Jesus. That is the great commission, that in all nations you can find people who have been called out, who are outside the camp of that nation, who fellowship in Christ's sufferings. Still integrated into their nations, still participating in life, still speaking the same language, but with a different spirit. With a different unity.

Unfortunately, we like the camp. And we don't like to be disgraced. We like being with others, making a name for ourselves. So we try to make the camp a "Christian" camp; give the camp a Christian culture. That way we can speak the same language and have the same spirit. We can talk about taking up our cross without having to actually do it. Once that happens, however, it becomes a flip of a coin as to whether we touch people with God's love or give them something worthless. For example, there are people in different countries who think Americans are evil and should be destroyed. There are Christians who, at times, feel the same way about the leaders of those Americans. And as we think in our heart, so are we. When we make the camp our home, our heart becomes compromised. We move from being sensitive to God's Spirit to being sensitive to anything we feel threatens the camp. We become entangled in the things and affairs of this world.

If I am an ambassador of Christ, then my body; this earthen vessel I live in is not American soil. It's not Canadian soil, or French soil, or Russian soil, or Chinese soil, or any other country in this world. I am an ambassador of Christ to whatever community, city, state, and country I live in. And what I bring is the kingdom of God; peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. Speaking the same language as those around me, but having a different spirit.

If you wonder what is going on in the world, well the answer is very simple. God is keeping his promises. He is faithful. He is keeping his promises. Every time we talk about God being faithful, every time we sing about God being faithful, we are confirming that he is actively keeping his promises every single day. That his mercies are new every morning.

I invite you to have faith in God. Come outside of the camp. Take on the reproach of Christ. Lose your life so you can find it. Touch people with God's love. In all you are, represent a kingdom that is not of this world.