Summary: A sermon for the 4th Sunday in Lent, Series C, based on an unknown students recount of a class she encountered at a Christian college.
4th Sunday in Lent March 18, 2007 “Series C”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, as we study your Word, we realize that we do not fully embrace the life you created us to live, not only personally, but also corporately as your church. We are enslaved to old habits, past dispositions, accustomed patterns. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire us through your Word to deeper faith, that we cling to your redeeming grace and serve our crucified and risen Lord as his disciples. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
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.”