Genesis 11:1-9: And the Lord said, ‘...Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel...
In big-time sports--both college and pro--players now seek ways to be part of a team yet be noticed in their own right. Players wear brightly colored sleeves, gloves, or shoes, so uniforms are no longer uniform.
Isn’t it the conundrum of all of our culture: to fit it with a team yet assert our individuality? We want to be part of a team, a community, or a trend, but we don’t want the self to be lost in the sameness.
We usually tell the familiar story of the tower of Babel to warn against trying to put ourselves in God’s place, as the builders did by building a tower reaching to the heavens. The divine decision to “confuse their language” is seen as a way of thwarting human efforts to displace God.
But isn’t Babel also a story about honoring differences, about the danger of requiring everyone to be just like us? We should celebrate differences rather than seeing them as punishment. I understand that the effort to supplant God had to end, but aren’t we richer and deeper when we acknowledge and honor our differences?
It’s a very old and important story: embracing unity but keeping the self.
Psalm 37: 1-18; Hebrews 6:13-20; John 4:1-15
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