Do-it-yourself religion

Published 4:54 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

By Michael Brooks
Brooks is a pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church and adjunct instructor at Jefferson State Community College.

I always put a good coat of wax on our cars before winter sets in, and the SUV we traded for in August was next in line. But, I reasoned, the SUV is larger than my vehicle that I’d already done and waxing would take longer and be harder to do. I toyed with the idea of hiring this done and visited the webpage of a nearby auto detail store. When I saw a paste wax job was $150, I decided differently. As a former colleague once told me, “I’m the cheapest labor there is!”

So, the job is done and the vehicle’s ready for winter.

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And I enjoyed seeing it sparkle in the sunlight today.

That’s about all I get out of this deal since it’s the wife’s car. As I often tell people I get it when it’s dirty or needs gas.

A lot of folks are do-it-yourself-ers these days with the cost of labor so high. But in the spiritual realm we can’t think we’ll save money, time or effort in getting right with God.

John Wesley tried. He was raised in a decidedly Christian home. His mother, Suzanna, was truly a saint who taught her children to love God.

Wesley attended Oxford where he and a few friends were so methodical in spiritual practice that they earned the name “Methodists.”

Wesley was ordained a deacon which was a precursor to service as a priest in the Church of England. Then he went to the American colony of Georgia to preach to the Native Americans.

But nowhere along the way did Wesley feel he knew God. He returned to England believing he’d failed in his calling.

“I went to America to convert the Indians,” he said, “but O my God, who will convert me?”

It was only when he went to a Bible study in Aldersgate that he felt his “heart strangely warmed” as the teacher expounded Paul’s letter to the Romans.

“I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death,” he said.

Wesley found what people of faith have known throughout spiritual history.

We’re right with God when we trust him to do his work in our lives — work we can’t do on our own.

As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2: 8-9, NLT).