'Do It Yourself'
Readers in England will
recognise that the heading is borrowed from that popular creative
enterprise which has been growing so extensively in recent years.
Behind the title there seem to be a number of implied questions,
such as: Why not have all the interest, pleasure and satisfaction
of making things yourself? Why pay all the extra cost of having
others do for you what you can do for yourself? Why live only on
the creativeness, skill and ingenuity of others when these very
abilities may be lying latent in yourself? Why be solely
objective in your possessions when, having 'done it yourself',
you can have the inward joy and knowledge that comes from
originality? Why live a secondhand life, when a whole realm of
reality may remain in yourself, unexploited? Why not 'Do it
yourself'? If you do 'Do it yourself' you will, at least, know
the genuineness, the value, of the article, and how much it can
be depended upon.
All this opens a door to very
much real thought and possibility, and if we transfer the idea to
the life of the Christian, it at once presents us with some very
vital considerations. May I suggest some of these to you?
Is it not true that a vast
amount of our Christianity is secondhand, in the wrong sense? Of
course, we know quite well that, in the matter of our redemption
and all that goes with the grace of God, there is nothing that we
can do; it is received as God's gift, made by Him. But it is not
of that that we are thinking. The substance and form of
Christianity for very many is not the original, deep,
heart-relatedness but is a tradition, a creation by men, a
product of history, a crystallized system. It may be the work -
even hard work - of our preachers, teachers, parents, churches,
schools, but - in the deepest and most vital sense - it is not ours;
it has not been wrought in the travail, the 'sweat and tears', of
our own souls. Shaped by others, we have taken it ready made. We
have taken it for granted, as a matter of course. There is a
challenge which, sooner or later, will be a life-or-death issue
as to our spiritual life. That challenge is: 'How much of what
you have is really your own? How much of your faith, i.e. belief,
is really yours? How much of your position stands true to that
historic declaration: 'Here I am - I can do no other. God help
me!' - in other words, 'I have no alternative; this is my very
There are other aspects of this
'Do it yourself' matter. When Jesus challenged Pilate with the
interrogation: "Sayest thou this of thyself, or did others
tell it thee...?" (John 18:34), He touched a key to a vast
amount bound up with the same issue. The issue was that Christ
was being handed over to crucifixion on the uncertain and
dangerous ground of mere report. We know that the whole case was
false. It rested upon the words of suborned false witnesses, upon
distortion and misrepresentation of things that He had said, upon
fear of the consequences of allegiance to Him, upon policy, upon prejudice.
Jesus was an inconvenience to their way of life, to their
religious system, to their ambitions. So, Jesus must be got out
of the way, and 'the end justifies the means'. But Pilate was
offered this ready-made report, and, finding it a convenient way
out of a predicament or embarrassment, he was ready to use it.
His retort only shows how it pierced his armour and stung him.
He only confirmed the truth and genuineness of the implied
charge: "Thine own nation..." (v. 35). So Jesus went to
the Cross because (at least in this particular) Pilate did not
'do it himself' - track this thing to its source and ascertain
its real nature and cause.
Is it not true that our Lord is
suffering shame, reproach, and rejection now because of an
immense amount of falsehood and misrepresentation in Christianity
itself? If Christianity, rather than being a mere 'religion',
were really a life - that is, Christ as an indwelling
reality checking us up on our behaviour, conduct, manners,
speech, appearance, influence, courtesies or discourtesies -
would He not be saved from the hands of many who want a case
against Him and find it too easily in those who bear His name?
This kind of life is not to be purchased in religious stores. It
is not procured cheaply and from others. It is not something 'put
on'. It is wrought in the very souls of those concerned, so that
others are able to say - 'Something has been done in that
one'; and to this we have to give ourselves. There is infinite
value in a firsthand knowledge of the Lord.
We venture to press our point
into another realm, and here it is a venture indeed. But its
importance calls for boldness.
Is it not true that a very
great amount of the weakness, shame, dishonour, and even
disgrace, characterizing Christianity, is due to the ease with
which Christians can take up and retail rumours, reports,
insinuations, suspicions, and the like? 'Information' is passed
on, and, without investigation, substantiation, or verification,
it is accepted as true and repeated.
Is it not true that the ever
increasing number of divisions and alienations among Christians
can be laid to the account of this failure to verify at first
hand the criticisms and judgments that are current? Surely we are
being forced to realise that this whole world - secular and
otherwise - is wrapped around with a growingly dense blanket of
suspicions, misrepresentations, distortions, insinuations, and
lies! Confidence is well-nigh obliterated. Loyalty and mutual
trust have almost entirely disappeared. The last precious thing
in fellowship is assailed. Unless we constantly draw our breath
from Heaven, this evil atmosphere gets into our own spiritual
lungs, and we too breathe it out. Scepticism, mistrust,
suspicion, from which very little indeed escapes, is the evil
ether of this world. It wrapped itself around Jesus when He was
here, so that He could only live and do anything at all by
constantly resorting to the pure atmosphere of Heaven. The same
spirit of prejudice and discrediting dogged the steps of Paul
wherever he went. Attach a question-mark to anything, and the
object is at once suspect.
The most poignant and tragic
aspect of this sinister campaign of the evil powers is the
facility with which Christians sponsor it. That destructive and
blighting 'But' is the common pitfall. 'Yes, there is a lot of
good in it (or him); but - you know...' That 'But'
does not rest upon the solid ground of investigated and verified
proof, but upon mere hearsay, or, at best, the prejudiced
judgment of someone who has some private interest to protect.
We are zealous for the
inspiration of the Scriptures, but we are not allowed to be
selective in this. Not only are the glorious Scriptures of our
salvation and the grace of God inspired, but equally such other
Scriptures as: "Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle?
Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that slandereth not with his
tongue... nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour"
(Psalm 15:1,3). Or: "Prove all things" (1 Thess. 5:21).
Satan's workshop is kept busy night and day making what Paul
calls "evil report" (2 Cor. 6:8), and his business is
thriving. The Lord save us all from being accessories to that
Here is a realm where we should
not be cheated with the cheap words of this nefarious business,
but, in the matter of being sure and 'knowing the truth' - 'Do it