January 25, 2011: Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-13; Revelation 7:9-12 Devotional Sharing

Pastor Ed Kang’s Devotion: You are priesthood

Submitted by Ray Choi, Gracepoint Berkeley

Focusing on the themes of speech and unity, what lessons are there in these three passages? In Genesis 11, the focal point of their attempted unity was THEMSELVES (“make a name for ourselves”), in defiance of God by trying to build a tower that reached to the heavens.  And because of this, God frustrated their attempts. In Acts 2, the disciples were gathered not for themselves, but in obedience to Jesus’ command for them to wait and receive power (Acts 1:8) to share the gospel with the world.  God gave them the Holy Spirit, and it was heard and understood by everyone who was there, in their own language.  Lastly, in Revelation 7, the people from every nation, tribe, people and language were gathered around the throne of the Lamb, all shouting in one loud voice praises to God. The lesson is that when God is not the center of a community or gathering of people, there will be no unity; only when it is God and His work at the center can there be true unity.
What were the central driving forces behind the building of the tower vs. what happened on the day of Pentecost?
The driving force behind the building of the tower was the celebration of man and his accomplishment (“make a name for ourselves”), whereas the driving force behind what happened on Pentecost was the salvation plan of God unfolding after the resurrection of Jesus, culminating in the giving of the Holy Spirit into the lives of Jesus’ disciples.  The driving forces were man-centered versus God-centered; glorifying man’s accomplishment versus waiting in humble submission to God’s will and salvation plan.

Contrast the gathering in Genesis 11 vs. Revelation 7.  What lesson is there here for Christian gatherings? The lesson for Christian gatherings in contrasting Genesis 11 and Revelation 7 is that the center and the motivation of the gathering needs to always be obedience to God’s word, His salvation plan, and His honor.  As soon as the gathering becomes centered around man himself, or around a church, the church’s accomplishments, “making a name for ourselves,” that community/fellowship will fall apart.  It will split apart because the center is not God; people will be guarded, self-protecting, self-interested.  There will be no unity, because everyone will have their different trajectories they want to go in.  Over time, no one will want to stay together. That is the death of a church, when it stops obeying God’s word and just wants to settle and be a well-known, popular church. Personally, the implication and lesson is that I need to be very clear about my motivation of being at our church, of my commitment and my serving.  The center needs to be God’s glory and the carrying out of His will.  If it ever ceases to be about that and begins to be about my success, about my position in ministry, than that will break our community and sever me from genuine connection with God’s people here.  On NPR the broadcaster, in anticipation of President Obama’s second State of the Union address, said that the President is riding on a series of successes – from getting certain measures passed in a lame duck senate, and also from his “rousing” eulogy that he gave for the victims of the Tucson, Arizona shooting.  It was shocking that this announcer was citing the tragic deaths of 6 people as a basis of success for the President.  This is a snapshot of what can happen to any person, and even a Christian, when his focus becomes his record and not God. Whose responsibility is it to keep the center of the Christian gathering around God and His will?  Is it just the pastor and wife?  No, each member needs to do the work of centering his life around the throne of the Lamb.  It’s my responsibility.

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