“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.
The Second City
One of my earliest memories of visiting downtown Chicago was when I was about 9 years old.
It was 1974 and I made the first of many subsequent trips to the Sears Tower.
That’s what it was called in 1974. Today it is officially the Willis Tower. But most Chicagoans still call it the Sears Tower. They do this in much the same way they still call the place where the Chicago White Sox play baseball “Comiskey Park” (It is officially “Guaranteed Rate Field”). Also in the same way that they call the Macy’s store between State Street and Wabash “Field’s.”
Anyway, back to my visit to Sears Tower. In 1974 it was the tallest building in the world. And it was in the second largest city in the United States.
Chicago was known as “Second City” – second only to New York in population.
Since then, the then-Sears Tower has dropped to second tallest in the Western Hemisphere and 21st tallest in the world.
The city of Chicago has dropped from second to third in the United States – behind New York and Los Angeles.
The City That Builds a Name for Itself
In the 1830’s Chicago started out as a small, frontier town of 200. Within four years it grew to nearly 4000 and was incorporated as a “city.” For several decades it was the fastest growing city in the United States.
Today, Chicago and the surrounding area have over 11 million people!
Chicago is also the home of the skyscraper.
The skyline of Chicago is iconic – filled with skyscrapers that were, at one time, the tallest buildings in the world.
This gave Chicago another nickname – the “City of the Big Shoulders.”
Another City that Built a Name – and a Tower – for Itself
Over four thousand years earlier, a group of people got together to make a city, a tower, and a name, for itself.
Several generations after the world-wide flood that was survived by Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives, there was a large group of descendants that still bore the trauma of the flood.
In spite of God’s promise to never send a world-wide flood again, this group of people endeavored to build a tower so high that they would never have to worry about a flood again.
Following in the footsteps of an earlier ancestor – Cain – they first built a city in which to put their tower.
Their tower would reach to the heavens and their city would ensure they would never be dispersed throughout the world.
They would be powerful, noticeable, and proud of their accomplishments.
Catching God’s Attention
And this catches God’s attention.
Ever since the Fall, we have been self-centered and self-serving.
And we have been trying to make a name for ourselves through our own efforts. But these are wasted efforts because of our ruinous sinful nature.
Still, God continues to reach out to us and come near to us. His desire is that we come near to him and into a close relationship with him.
God reached out to us not from a tower, not from a city, but from a cross on a hill. Through the outstretched and bleeding arms of His Son, Jesus Christ, God removed all that separated us from him.
From the City to the City … and Beyond
And now that God has brought us back to himself through his Son, we can go into the cities that used to be our own monuments of self-aggrandizement and share the Gospel!
With the power of God’s love for us, we can share the love of God with the lost and erring in the cities, in the towns, in the country-side! God came to us in Jesus. Now we go with God to the people with the Gospel.
Heavenly Father, forgive me when I try to make a name for myself. Forgive me when I become self-centered, as if I am the most important and that I can take care of myself. Help me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to rely completely on you. Help me to do all things to your great glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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