I hate to admit it, but I am not a DIY person. In an age where there are countless instructional videos online to walk me through any number of household tasks, I, for the most part, tragically remain a get-someone-else-to-do-it person. Call it what you will — apathy, entitlement, laziness — but it is a sin that I have somehow gotten away with so far.

Four weeks into seminary and, similarly, I just can’t say that I’m very fired up about translating the original Greek version of the New Testament. Surely, there are plenty of people who are much smarter than me, people who already know Greek, who can tell me what it says.

Cue this wonderful quote from G.K. Chesterton, who tips his hat to the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us — the scribes, scholars, and translators — who painstakingly labored over every word of the New Testament so that anyone can open up a Bible today and read about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and what it means for their own life in the here and now.

Likewise, for centuries, the church fathers debated every bit of church doctrine in order to protect us from the cruel heresies that tempt us away from the Gospel of God’s grace. “Doctrine” can easily be one of those humdrum, isolating words, but Chesterton understood that sound doctrine can actually affect one’s well-being (not to mention one’s relationships). Because these people intentionally focused on Jesus (specifically his death and resurrection), the Nicene Creed can be more than just a rote recitation, but a source of hope and relief. Just as military veterans are good to remind us that freedom isn’t free, I see the doctrinal work of the early saints as something for which to be extremely grateful. Here’s the quote:

The idea of birth through a Holy Spirit, of the death of a Divine being, of the forgiveness of sins, or the fulfillment of prophecies, are ideas which, anyone can see, need but a touch to turn them into something blasphemous or ferocious. If some small mistake were made in doctrine, huge blunders might be made in human happiness. A sentence phrased wrong about the nature of symbolism might have broken all the best statues in Europe. A slip in the definitions might stop all the dances; might wither all the Christmas trees or break all the Easter eggs. Doctrines had to be defined within strict limits, even in order that man might enjoy general human liberties. The Church had to be careful; if only that the world might be careless.

This isn’t to say that the process of canonization or the early church is the foundation of my faith. After all, to err is human. Christian doctrine was established through trial and (plenty of) error. Translations were undoubtedly fudged down the line (note: spectacles weren’t even invented until the 13th century and, in case you didn’t know, those early manuscripts used font size 8). The real “work” comes compliments of the Holy Spirit. It’s no less than a miracle that any of these texts managed to survive and get passed down. Truly, the words themselves aren’t only God-breathed, but the way in which they were assembled seems to be inspired by the Word Himself.

Of course, the work of the scribes only points to the work that was done once and for all on our behalf. It was a work that was pronounced finished by the author of our salvation as he hung from a cross. While there is little hope for me ever becoming a DIY-type, there is all the hope in the world knowing that Jesus Christ did what I could never do myself. And he did it for me. So that I don’t have to. For me, there is a correlation between my own experience and Chesterton’s quote: just as the Church had to be careful so that the world could be careless, Jesus died so that I may live.