The modern liberal order refuses to live within God-ordained limits. This has become increasingly clear to me. This morning Albert Mohler commented on another indication of this - a 70 year old woman who gave birth thanks to IVF techniques. (You can read his perceptive critique here.) But this is not the only indication of such Icarus-like tendencies. In virtually every facet of life, the world says, "You can have it all." Or, to put it in more serpentine language, "You will be like God."
There is nothing new under the sun, and we can see from Genesis 11 that this lie has animated the aspirations of human society from ancient times. The whole earth set about to make a name for themselves. They proposed to build a great city around a great tower to accomplish this goal. Since a “name” in Scripture is often an indication of one’s character and reputation, this is a boldfaced attempt by mankind to make themselves great. This is pride on parade, and it lies very close to the heart of what sin itself is. “Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God, whether in act, attitude, or nature” (Grudem). At the heart of this is “failure to let God be God” (Erickson). This is precisely what we see mankind doing in this text. Thus we have in this passage the blossoming of “the world” (and the false religion that is at its heart – Babylon). In one sense, all the rest of Scripture can be seen as a contest between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world with its rival ruler, the devil.
The Lord's response to this pride is particularly instructive. He said, "If they are one people..., from now on nothing that they propose to do will be impossible for them." In other words, humanity would be able to achieve its own purposes as opposed to God's purposes. Of course, you know the story of the Tower of Babel, and you know that God in his judgment (and mercy) did not allow this to happen. But the point here is that the world system has always tried to surpass its God-given boundaries. Our day is no different. We think that our technology will somehow enable us to play God.
I am particularly concerned for Christians who have bought into the modern liberal way of thinking. Many, many of my fellow believers consider themselves to be "conservative," but they tend to pursue the life without limits that so characterizes contemporary American society. They have some conservative instincts, but they hardly perceive the bundle of contradictions that their lifestyle presents to any genuine conservatism. Our choices in family, healthcare, communications, entertainment, economics, foreign policy, and even church practice betray that we have at least one ear cocked to the music of the pied piper of this world. We are more conformed that we even realize.
Now, I would be remiss if I stopped at critiquing the rebellious life without limits attempted by liberalism. For there is a true abundant life, actually called eternal life, to be found in Jesus Christ. Our human hearts cry out for this. The modern life without limits is simply a twisted, deformed attempt to get what we were really created for. But as Christians, we must show the world the true "life without limits" found only in Christ. And we must never forget the seeming paradox of following Christ - "whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:24). We will never gain this life by pursuing our "freedom." We will only find it as we submit, as we trust, as we obey, as we worship our Lord. Living within those limits is the way to life without limits.