I’m a fan of the DIY movement. I love seeing the old trades revived. Nowadays you can find a video about almost anything: cobblers making shoes, log house building, pouring metal, drilling wells…all by hand. I firmly believe God shaped the heart of a man to create things. There is joy in working with our hands. Stepping back and seeing a completed job that functions well and looks better than ok is a great feeling. The DIY movement is filled with books and videos all titled “__ Easy Steps to _______.” You fill in the blanks. “3 Easy Steps to building a driveway,” “6 Steps to house building,” or “Build an airplane with scraps in less than a month!” These are designed to be highly motivational tools. They are somewhat successful, even when we find out it will be 12 steps instead of six before we see a completed project.
I am not a fan, however, when the DIY mindset is applied to the Church. I do not like the 3 steps to success sermons. I don’t like breaking the Great Commission down into simple little pieces that are easy to swallow like the numbered pieces of a homemade greenhouse kit. We lose the mystery of the Gospel when we do that and we remove the role of the Holy Spirit. He is our teacher. I am not supposed to explain away His role. I have no desire to put you in a place where you think “All I have to do is these three easy steps and I’m good to go!” No! We must keep ourselves in complete dependence on the Holy Spirit of God.
Some of you will take issue with my thoughts here. You are drawn to the mentality of independence. This is why you like DIY projects. You can do it all yourself. You don’t have to ask anyone for help. There is a certain sense of pride in being able to step back and say “I did that.” And I understand that completely when it comes to working with our hands. But the Gospel is not about your hands. Its focus is your heart, something we have no DIY videos showing us how to handle. It is completely out of our ability to create peace, manufacture comfort, construct grace or design mercy. These are God’s tools by His design. Their use and application in our life depend totally on Him and His divine choice to interact with us. Our statement of complete independence, no matter how strong willed or scrappy we are feeling that day, is exactly what God asks us to surrender.
We see lots of hard-nosed customers in the Bible. God knows who you are. He made you that way! He isn’t asking us to give up our personality or the joy we find in hard work. He is expecting us to come to Him on His terms, though. And His terms say that salvation is an act of grace. That means we do not work for it. We do not earn it based on our creative ability, blistered hands or skin tanned from hours of hard work outside. We do not earn it at all. We receive it. And it isn’t based on us at all, but is entirely on Him!
When it comes to the way we portray this message, we must be so careful as to not pitch it as another project for the creative-hungry. Our relationship with God cannot be dependent on a “3 easy steps” blog or video for those who enjoy the homemade options. We can’t ‘figure Him out’ no matter how hard we try or what we’re told by others. He is and will always be a mystery. That’s what makes our salvation so grand! Just choose not to read the book promising otherwise. Ok?
Instead may we be found “studying to show ourselves approved, unashamed workers rightly dividing the Word of truth.”(2 timothy 2.15) Paul writes this stout verse to his son in the faith with the full expectation that Timothy was tending his business as he wrote it. Paul writes to remind him that it is not in his own strength or ability he finds success and the desires of his heart. Try as Timothy might, he will be met with emptiness and death around every corner, lest he learn to rely on the Lord. The approval of the Lord comes not in sufficient knowledge but in the total choice of the worker to lay himself flat out before the Lord to be filled. The knowledge is but water and nourishment for the soul planted in God’s garden. Let the only one qualified to work on your soul do the job. Don’t try to shortcut His activity with “easy steps”.
The hard work of the soul produces in us the very gifts God designed us to carry. We cannot earn them on our own, but time in prayer will teach us patience, serving the brokenhearted will give us compassion and giving sacrificially will produce generosity. There are no easy steps, but there are steps. The work isn’t complete until we get to Heaven, but that doesn’t mean it can be put off. I encourage you to lay down your independence, set aside the desire to ‘finish the God-stuff’ and join Him in the work He wants to do in your life today.