As I was reading in Genesis one morning during Summit Ski Week, I came across a very familiar passage. The story is about the Tower of Babel, which is found Genesis 11. You know the story. The people said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” You also probably remember that God wasn’t so fond of that idea and decided to shake things up a bit by scattering all the people and giving them different languages. The story certainly wasn’t knew to me, but as I was reading I was struck with something I had never considered.
Let me back up. Prior to reading this story, I had been spending a few days thinking about what marks us as a fraternity. We talk about our five core values, and we spent this the fall focusing on unity. Prior to my reading that morning of Summit, I was thinking about the how God desires unity for His people. I was thinking how Jesus prayed that we would be one.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” – John 17:20-23
When Jesus prayed for all those that would believe in him, he chose to pray for our unity. Unity is near to the heart of God, and it is powerful. I suppose that’s why Paul tells us to, “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. “ (Ephesians 4:3)
With all this in fresh in my mind that morning, I read through the story of the Tower of Babel. I had read the story many times. I knew the story was about how God doesn’t like it when people try do make a name for themselves and, in so doing, neglect to honor and glorify Him, the very one who gives them life and breath. I knew the story was about God protecting man from the delusion of self-sufficiency. I knew it was about how God is not willing to share His glory with another. However, what I had not seen before is that there is absolutely a lesson in Genesis 11 about the power of unity.
Listen to God’s reasoning for why he had to break up their plans to build a tower to the heavens in order to make a name for themselves. When He comes down to check out what’s going on, He says, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” (Gen 11:6)
Did you catch it? Because the people were one, nothing that they propose to do would be withheld from them. Another version says, “now nothing shall be impossible for them.” You talk about powerful. It’s as if God himself describes unity as this unstoppable force. They can accomplish anything. That was a fresh revelation for me that morning in the mountains of Colorado.
There are some conclusions.
1. God loves unity – Jesus prayed for it. Paul said we need to make every effort to keep it.
2. Unity is powerful – When God’s people begin to operate as one the impossible will become possible. Jesus said this is how the world will know that God sent him.
I challenge you guys to walk in unity together this semester. If you are an officer, pray that you will become one with your other officers. If you are in a cell group (that’s everyone), pray that God will unite your cell group and that you would became as one. Pray that God will unite your chapter as you meet together. And pray that God will unite our chapters across the nation so that the students on every campus will know that God sent Jesus to rescue, heal and deliver them!