This past week, Josie received a rather interesting story via the e-mail that I would like to paraphrase for you this morning. Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the author. However, I do know that it was written by one of the students who witnessed this experiential sermon in a small Christian college, somewhere in the western United States. It happened during an introductory course in Christian theology. The professor who taught this course was named Dr. Christianson.
Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year, regardless of their major. Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the Gospel to his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take the course, and subsequently, Christianity seriously.
There was, however, one special student in his class. Steve had entered college with the intent of later going on to seminary to study for the ordained ministry, and so he took this course seriously. Steve was also popular among the student body. He was not only well liked, he was an imposing physical specimen. Even as a freshman, he was the starting center on the school football team.
One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to remain after class in order to talk with him. Dr. Christianson then asked Steve, “How many push-ups can you do?”
Steve responded, “I do about 200 every night.”
“Well, that pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson responded. Then he asked “Do you think you could do 300?”
“I don’t know,” Steve answered. “I’ve never done 300 at a time.”
“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it,” the professor asked.
Steve said, “Well… I think I can… Yeah, I can do it.” Dr. Christianson said, “Good. I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”
Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started the professor pulled out a huge box of donuts. Now, these weren’t the normal kind of donuts. They were the extra fancy, BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting. Everyone in the class became excited. It was Friday, the last class of the day, and it looked as though they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson’s class.
Dr. Christianson then went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?” “Yes,” she replied.
Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”
“Sure,” Steve said, as he jumped down to the floor in front of his desk and did a quick ten. Then he returned to his seat. Dr. Christianson then put a donut on Cynthia’s desk, and went to the next person in the row and asked, “Joe, would you like a donut?”
Joe said “Yes.” And again, Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Joe can have a donut?” And again, Steve hit the
floor and did a quick ten. And so it went, down the first row of students. Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.
Then Dr. Christianson started down the second row, and came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and an athlete in his own right. When Scott was asked if he wanted a donut, he responded by saying, “Well, can I do my own push-ups?” Dr. Christianson responded, “No. Steve has to do them.” Scott then said, “Then I don’t want one.”
Dr. Christianson shrugged his shoulders, turned to Steve, and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut that he doesn’t want?” And in obedience, Steve started to do ten push-ups. Scott then said, “Hey, I said I didn’t want one.”
Dr. Christianson retorted, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.
By this time, Steve had begun to slow down. He just stayed on the floor between sets, because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see perspiration coming out around his brow. And as Dr. Christianson started down the third row, the students were beginning to get angry. “Jenny, do you want a donut?” he asked. And as sternly as she could, she said “No.” But again, Steve did ten for the donut that Jenny didn’t want.
By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were all beginning to say “No,” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get his push-ups done for each donut. A small pool of sweat formed on the floor from beneath his face. The class could clearly see that his arms and brow were red from the physical effort involved.
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some other students from other classes had wandered in and sat on the steps along the side wall of the classroom. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count, and realized that there were now 35 students in the room. He began to worry if Steve would be able to make it, because it was taking him much longer to complete each set.
When he came to the end of the last row, he asked Steve, “Do you think we should give a donut to these five, who are not members of our class? You realize that if we do, you will need to do ten push-ups for each one.
Steve picked up his head, his arms now visibly shaking from exhaustion, and said, “Give them a donut. But do I have to touch my nose to the floor on each push-up?” Dr. Christianson thought for a moment and said, “Well, they’re your push-ups. You are in...Continue reading this sermon illustration (Free with PRO)
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by Dale Pilgrim on Aug 25, 2005
A man wanted to see Buckingham Palace. His guide took him to the gate. “Oh, I don’t mean here. I want inside.” “I’m sorry sir,” replied the guide, “I don’t have ...read more
Contributed by Jonathan Busch on Aug 18, 2002
A woman went to the doctors office, where she was seen by one of the new doctors, but after about 4 minutes in the examination room, she burst out, screaming as she ran down the hall. An older doctor stopped her and asked what the problem was, and she told him her story. After listening, he had her ...read more
Contributed by David Elvery on Nov 14, 2004
There was once a Christian celebration on the west coast of Africa, when converted natives brought of their meager possessions to show their devotion to Christ, a young girl only recently saved from paganism brought a silver coin worth about eighty-five cents, and handed this to the missionary as ...read more
Contributed by David Schaal on May 20, 2004
A natural example of this point can be found by looking at the two seas in the Holy Land. The Sea of Galilee freely receives and gives out water. It has an abundance of life, nurturing many different kinds of fish and plant life. The water from the Sea of Galilee is carried by way of the Jordan ...read more
What Is Sin? PRO
Contributed by David Schaal on Sep 4, 2003
What is Sin? · Man calls it an accident; God calls it an abomination. · Man calls it a blunder; God calls it blindness. · Man calls it a defect; God calls it a disease. · Man calls it a chance; God calls it a choice. · Man calls it an error; God calls it an enmity. · Man calls it a ...read more
Contributed by Sam Mccormick on Aug 14, 2017
God's grace as the avenue of salvation is sometimes seen as being in conflict with obedience of the believer as a requirement, without which salvation cannot be obtained. Which is it, or is it a combination? Can this dichotomy be satisfactorily resolved?
Contributed by Scott Kircher on Jan 27, 2014
Grace. It is something we all want yet struggle to give or we struggle to see those who really don't deserve it, receive it. The fact is that we don't really understand grace then. What is Grace and how can it affect our entire life when we receive it?