Our pastor’s sermon today featured a story that was meant to illustrate the basic Christian story of salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ, and the possible role of individual human acceptance of that grace in the process. The illustration involved doughnuts.
In the story, a teacher of religion engages one of the students, a popular and intelligent young man who is also the starting forward on the school football team, to agree to help him with the illustration. On the last day of class, the teacher brings doughnuts to class, and begins asking each student whether they want a doughnut. The first student says “yes,” and the teacher asks his confederate student to do 10 pushups so that Amy can have her doughnut. He proceeds to ask each student in turn. The pushups proceed to get harder and harder. Some students protest; “why can’t I do my own pushups?” or “why can’t I help?”; “no, I don’t want a doughnut …” – but it doesn’t matter, says the teacher, it’s his class, they’re his doughnuts, this has been arranged, and whether the student wants the doughnut or not, he’s going to put the doughnut on each student’s desk. Eventually, all the students have been given doughnuts, and the confederate student is … frankly, exhausted.
The illustration is supposed to indicate that salvation (like the doughnut) is freely available to everyone (at least, in the class …), through the merit and work of Jesus Christ (represented in this analogy by the student who was willing and able to do 340 pushups, as it turned out), whether or not people take the doughnut in the end or not.
I still haven’t decided how I feel about this story. But it was sure vivid.