Do- It-Yourself Christianity?
“Stop! Let me do it.” That’s what the girl screamed to her brother at the Lego table in Barnes Noble. “Apart from Me you can do…nothing” ~ Jesus (John 15:5)
On the days when I do writing and reading in the local bookstore, I go up the escalator and pass the “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) section. Intermingled with the “DIY” books are shelves of FIY (Fix-it-yourself) books. I once dreamed of building a log cabin, and read a book called “Log Cabins: A Do-It-Yourself Guide,” but gave up that dream when I realized I lived in the suburbs, hadn’t used an axe, and liked the idea of a Walmart or Target within three miles.
I have an old worn out copy of the “Reader’s Digest Do-It-Yourself Manual” in my garage. I’ve used it for all kinds of things over the last 30 or so years. I think it’s a combination of being both curious and cheap that compels me to fix something rather than buy a new one…irons and toasters excluded. The book, now hidden in my garage, has a new updated version. The title: The New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. I guess they added the stuff we couldn’t do after reading the old incomplete manual.
I think I’ve passed this mindset down to my daughter. She loves to fix things…and then tell me about it. When she took on her washing machine with a set of pink pliers, a pink hammer, and goggles, I thought I’d seen it all. She’s expecting her first child in a few months (meaning I’m gonna be a grandfather), and in preparation, she and her husband are putting together a nursery. She’s beaming about the old dresser they sanded and refinished. (However, rather than the two dollar sanding mask we used back in the day, she bought a new $40 Face Respirator). I’m still proud.
The trouble comes when we start to apply the “Do It Yourself”, or it’s equally empty, “Fix it yourself” mentality to our spiritual lives as well. Our approach to the Christian life becomes as absurd as the enthusiastic young man who had just received his plumbers license and was taken to see Niagara Falls. He studied it for a minute and then said, “I think I can fix this.” Remember the rich young ruler who approached Jesus? He had his list ready of all the things he’d done right. You have one of those, right? Had quiet time today? Check. Over five minutes? Yep. Tithed ten percent? Yep. Helped the needy? Check. Read the One Year Bible? Started…5 times.
You see, we’ll always need spiritual disciplines in our life. Pay great attention to them. Care for your spirit and guard your heart. But above all, be grounded and anchored in a deep trust and faith in Almighty God…not your own efforts. The apostle Paul warns us of a grace-nullifying faith in our own abilities, virtues, and resumes. (Gal 2:21) Bottom line… do-it-yourself Christianity is trusting in yourself to continue what Christ has begun. Save DIY for home improvement projects.
I walk a few more aisles and get to the “Self-Help”aisle. Stop? Nope. FYI, the Bible never says God helps those who help themselves. God actually helps those who realize they can’t help themselves. Two aisles beyond and you reach the “Did-It-Himself”section. The Bibles…filled with: ~ The revelation of God…and His will for my life. ~ Nourishment and wisdom for my soul. ~ Promises and comfort I can count on in times when life crumbles in pain. (Count it all joy… James 1) Apart from Him we can do nothing, and with His strength, we can do all things. Your choice. Oh, and those kids…a few minutes later they were building the coolest colorful house of Legos…together.