Making It, which NBC has renewed for a second season, is teaching us how to use our hands to scratch a digital age itch. Airing its season one finale this past week, the six-episode reality show hosted eight crafters who not only built hometown terrariums that reminded them of their roots, but also used creativity and imagination to hold up a mirror to our humanity. As executive producer Nicolle Yaron explains, “I think the more people are on their phones, the more people want to use their hands…I think our deep-down human nature DNA misses that.”
Making It also builds a pathway toward stronger communities. Executive producer Nick Offerman, a master woodworker himself, clarifies why making things with our hands matters: “I think it’s great personally, but also think it’s great for a community if everyone is handy and responsible and you’ve taken better care of your family and your neighborhood and your river and so forth.”
The kindness the contestants show each other on Making It also marks a stark contrast to many other reality shows, where discordant quarreling often dominates airtime. Yaron highlights the camaraderie of the makers on Making It, saying, “They were really collaborative, and they were really sweet to each other. We did not produce them to help each other. They just did.”
Throughout scripture, we see how we learned to craft from God. After God liberates the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and gets them situated, the Lord then calls Moses up Mount Sinai. What happens next? God crafts. In verses that sound embarrassingly lavish in their detail, God crafts a vision for proper worship in the Tabernacle, describing the sumptuous curtains of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn (Exodus 26:1), as well as the dazzling priestly robes with embroidered pomegranates and golden bells (Exodus 28:34). The Lord then crafts the law. Exodus 31:18 tells us the stone tablets of the covenant were “inscribed by the finger of God.” As people made in the image of such a crafter God, we cannot help but hew beauty with our hands.
For God and for humans, love grounds our crafting. While we often use the word “amateur” in its pejorative sense to emphasize someone’s lack of skill, the primary meaning of the word is someone who creates for love, and not for money. Perhaps that’s why Making It emphasized the goal of the show was not the $100,000 prize, but “a job well done,” as Offerman says at the beginning of every episode. In fact, some studies have demonstrated that crafting for the motivation of rewards such as money actually makes us less productive.
When we craft out of love, we make our best product. As the familiar verses in Genesis 1 remind us, God calls the work of God’s hands “good.” God crafts us in divine workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), and even has engraved us on the very palms of the hands that have formed and shaped us (Isaiah 49:16).
Jesus also crafted. Mark 6:3 reveals that Jesus was a tekton, a Greek word that can mean carpenter, stonemason, or builder. Jesus not only fashioned stone and wood to furnish our daily lives, but also as a form of prophecy. Crafting compels us to be honest. If our building materials are shoddy, or we have not constructed a home with the care and precision that it needs, then our work will sooner or later collapse. Christ’s tekton training surely informed his warning that a “a house divided cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).
It’s no secret that our country is such a house in this moment. We’ve built much of our country’s infrastructure, including the White House and the Capitol, through the shoddy means of slavery. Searching online for the word “collapse” brings up more than 50 million news hits. As Paul admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 3:13, our work will indeed be tested.
Just as our hands got us into this mess, they can also save us. God honors excellent work by giving it eschatological value. Revelation 21:26 declares that God will draw the glory and honor of the nations into the New Jerusalem. Perhaps the wedding ceremony backdrops from Making It, the garden tools we fashion out of guns, or the jeans we patch ourselves instead of buying new ones will be part of that eternal glory. God honors us by honoring work well done.
After Satan tested Christ, Mark 1:14 tells us Jesus proclaimed good news. The next verse, which captures Christ’s first words in Mark’s Gospel, declares, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.”
Christ extends the reign of God to us with hands. How will we respond with ours?