I heard something lately that I have never thought of before. If you’re in church long enough, you inevitably hear someone say, “Why doesn’t God start over?” He did, and it didn’t work.

God started over with Noah. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and they were cast out of the garden of Eden, things went downhill from there. Cain killed Abel, Lamech killed men for hurting him. Humanity quickly spiraled out of control in disobedience, arrogance, and wickedness. Humanity’s drive to be like God had driven it to so much sinful disobedience that God was disappointed that he even created humankind. But Noah was blameless and righteous. He was in a right relationship with God. He obeyed and was humble. Noah was the new Adam. God started over with the flood. He saved Noah and his family and wiped out the rest of humanity. Creation was indespensable because of our sin. God started over with a fresh slate, with a blameless and righteous man.

Then Noah planted a vineyard and made wine. Then he became the first person to get drunk. Canaan saw him passed out naked and did nothing. Shem and Jephteth covered him. Noah cursed Canaan. Then Babel. The descendents of Noah want to make a name for themselves. The arrogance was back. Once again humanity was determined to be like God. God gave them different languages. Starting over did not work.

Babel shows that starting over is not enough. The problem was deeper than that. Something more drastic needed to be done. Sin had become too persistent and insidious—it had to be dealt with another way. At the end of Genesis 11 God is not satisfied with the redemption of humanity. He is once again disappointed. God’s answer will be to call Abraham and his descendents Israel, and through them, he will reverse the curse of Genesis 3—11. When that didn’t work, God would take the most drastic action available: he would become one of us. In the death and resurrection of Christ, the curse of Genesis is finally reversed.

There are mantras that echo through the church: “Why doesn’t God start over?” “Why can’t he just take us to heaven and get it done and over with?” Because God has never given up on us. He has started over, and it didn’t work. Throughout the sin, arrogance, and disobedience, God comes to us again and again. He came to Adam and Eve. Cain. The people at Babel. He has always worked to reverse the curse that humanity brought on itself.

So what does that say about the church? What should we be doing? We definitely should drop the mantras that are so ungodlike. May be it’s time for us to act like God instead of wanting to be God.