I want you to watch this video. It’s a wonderful video given by a lovely lady, Barbara Sher who has a great story about how she got started helping others find their dreams. It is uplifting and it is glorious that so many people are getting to do what they heart desires and others are helping them do it. Just by speaking up in a group, the whole group can make the ideas of individuals come alive.
I was fascinated watching people’s faces whilst they were listening to Barbara. She is like the grandmother that you always wanted, and indeed, who wouldn’t have become the person they were always going to be with this lady in your corner. Who in fact wouldn’t want to inspire that kind of affection and joy seen on the faces of the audience.
But the minute I finished watching this video, I began to think…. Isn’t this what happens in churches? Aren’t christians supposed to be doing something like this? Don’t we hear testimonies about how God has miraculously brought things to pass because somebody prayed for something to happen and somehow somebody else gave them money, or a job, or knew somebody who could do something for them? Isn’t this how God works? So if that is so, then what is it that is happening here with Barbara’s self-help groups. What’s the difference. Is there any? I almost began to panic.
But then two things came immediately to mind. The first was the tower of Babel, and the second was that the will of man, however good it may be and however much it is felt in the heart and pursued by the individual, is not the will of God. We can do all things if we make enough effort. The tower of Babel is proof enough of that. And in today’s environment of the exponential multiplication of knowledge, it is almost impossible to keep up with the surges of technology and innovation in science.
It is inevitable that as there is nothing new under the sun so also as it was in the beginning so it will be in the end. God was able to keep men from their ultimate goal of invading heaven and the eternal for many thousands of years but it seems that here at the end, the Nimrodian vision will have its manifestation. For Nimrod was a type of Antichrist and the real deal will be with us soon if he is not already.
Therefore, this harmless and banal looking old lady with her wonderful groups who are helping others and making other people’s dreams’ come true is simply a smaller version of the Tower of Babel. It sounds like a poor comparison, but the essence of this is the same. Moreover, just because somebody wants to run a zoo, or have a girlfriend doesn’t mean that these people are now happy and fulfilled. Essentially what is being procured is somebody else’s desires and regardless of whether they take a month or a year to come to fruition, they are in essence, just desires. They don’t have to be good, they don’t even have to be for the benefit of mankind, they just are what they are. And if you can get somebody else to help you get what you want, then it must be good right? Of course it is a good thing to make other people happy. The problem with people’s happiness is that it is not based in righteousness, it is very often based in the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, things which the bible tells us are not going to end in happiness at all.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2 NKJV
Let’s think about church for a minute. I was confused as I thought about the seeming cloney type manifestation that these groups had to church groups. I have been in bible studies where somebody has professed a need, I mean a real need like not being able to pay their rent or needing a job or needing a house to live in, and the group has prayed and they have seen God move or somebody has offered help in the same way that Paul and Peter taught in the early church, that those with an abundance help those with a need. A non-Christian might look at these two things and say they are one and the same but they aren’t. One group is about ‘dreams’, the other group is about needs. Nobody in a bible study is going to say, ask the group to get them a girlfriend. Few would even have the courage to speak up and ask them to pray for them to find a wife. There is a difference. One group is seeking to fulfill human desires, the other is seeking the will of God and asking God as a Father to provide actual needs. It isn’t the same thing at all.
Just as the tower of Babel was not about needs but about power, self-promotion and pride, so the groups Barbara Sher founded are not about seeking the God who created them but about helping ourselves to become what we want to become.
The dichotomy contained in the story of the tower of Babel was that from a human standpoint, what they did was truly magnificent. But from God’s standpoint, all that magnificence had come together to defy and insult their maker. The people of Shinar would have known who Noah was, and would have known about the flood and God’s judgement upon the human hybrids who had multiplied upon the earth. It wasn’t just a case of human beings behaving badly, this was a case of human beings who had lost their humanity. So the earth needed to be cleansed from them. Noah and his three sons were evidently the only ones who were righteous before God and it was through Noah’s son Shem that the lineage of Christ came. Satan was all fired up to destroy God’s own plan to crush his head, but he failed. Again. The tower of Babel was Satan’s attempt to get at God another way. He’s doing the same thing again. He will fail. Again.
Whether we are building a tower which we think will mark us out as god-like, or just wanting to write a novel, if our plans and dreams are purely self-generated and self-interpreted, we are like the Ninevites, the Babylonians, the Sodomites, the Gomorrahites and all the other ites who caused trouble to God and His people for centuries. We will simply be following our own desires at the expense of God’s. And for many people that’s OK. So for those, they will take a hold of Barbara’s self-empowering methods to chase after what you want and they will uphold her as a great teacher and mother of all who feel isolated from getting what they want. Of course we can do whatever we want whenever we want it. That has never been in question. The real problem is not being able to do whatever we put our minds to. The real problem is why we are not able to do what God wants us to do. Why, when God is manifestly greater in love and beneficence than a lovely friendly lady like Barbara Sher are we more often likely to avoid His will, His desires for us, even His gaze upon us. Why? Because God is holy, perfect, righteous and all-powerful. He is also our creator. He is to be worshipped and feared, and in order to become a part of His will, we have to die to our own will and who really wants to have any part of their will or person denied? It is not normal human behaviour. It IS normal human behaviour to create great monuments to our bad-assery.
So, while it is uplifting to hear Barbara Sher recount her start in helping others get what they want in life, ultimately, it is not and was not the reason human beings were created in the first place. As Christians, we are called to help others in need, but again, we are also called to help our brothers and sisters, not the whole world. When Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, he was not talking to the secular untaught masses, he was talking to Jews and those connected to them. He was telling people who were often blood related as often as not to help their brothers and sisters and to good to those in need, to not pass by on the other side if they saw a man in trouble and the use of the Samaritan was pointed. Samaritans and Jews were at odds with each other.
The Samaritans were a group of people who lived in Samaria – an area north of Jerusalem. They were half-Jews and half-Gentiles. When Assyria captured the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. some were taken in captivity while others left behind. The ones left behind intermarried with the Assyrians. Thus these people were neither fully Hebrews nor fully Gentiles. The Samaritans had their own unique copy of the first five books of Scripture as well as their own unique system of worship. At the time of Jesus the Jews and the Samaritans did not deal with one another. Jesus, however, ministered to the people of Samaria preaching the good news to them.
So even Jesus recognised that these were of the same lineage as the Jews despite their intermarrying and their corrupted beliefs. Jesus was still their Messiah. He was telling them the gospel, He wanted to meet their needs as well.
For in fact, this is the key to all of this. Our greatest need is for a Saviour, not for a girlfriend or to be able to dance with Patrick Swayze. These might be fine things in and of themselves and not exactly wrong or sinful, but they emanate from a sinful heart which chases after the things of the world. Our greatest joy, our greatest fulfillment comes when Christ reigns in our hearts and fills us with His Holy Spirit.