This piece originally appeared on my blog in July 2008. It’s an illustration I’ve used many, many times in trying to convey the severity of the gospel to people, our need for salvation, and the right response to the grace of the Lord. -AR
Imagine one day you and I go to lunch. We have a good meal together and you generously pick up the tab for both of us. I’d be appreciative. I’d say “thanks” and think that was a really nice gesture on your part. And truthfully, not long after–a few days maybe–I would probably forget about it and go on with life; maybe picking up yours next time, but that’s about it.
Now imagine if, during lunch, I started choking violently. The blockage of my air passageway causes my eyes to grow wide with panic as my chest starts to heave trying to ingest air it cannot get. My life is flashing before my eyes and all I see are the fearful faces in the restaurant staring back at me helplessly as terror overwhelms me inside and my face turns sickenly red-blue outside. Quiet airless agony grips me.
Suddenly you come around the table and position yourself behind me. You make a fist with one hand and wedge it in my abdomen. With the other hand you cover your fist. With all your strength you constrict your grip and force your fist inward and upward in a jolting thrust. Nothing. Again. Nothing. By now I feel my life slipping away–much younger and more ghastly than ever I had expected. With another attempt what feels like a baseball is jettisoned out of my wind pipe as my body reacts by inhaling a torrent of air. Over and over, quick successions of inhalation and exhalation spasmatically take place as I cough spittle and natural color begins to take over my face as I realize…
…I’m going to live.
…I’M GOING TO LIVE!!!
I’m going to live and I have YOU to thank! YOU saved my life! I was as good as dead and you SAVED ME!! THANK YOU! Thank you!! I’m forever indebted to you! You could never ask anything “too much” of me because I am so grateful for that time you saved my life! I would tell everyone who would listen about how you saved me!
Now…think about this: Has God merely bought your lunch? Have you just kinda winked, given Him the thumbs-up and said, “Thanks God, I’ll getcha next time! <wink><wink>” and gone on on your merry way?
If that is your view of Christianity, let me strongly suggest to you that you may not be saved at all.
Until we embrace the Lord as one who has ransomed us from death–undeservedly so, mnd you–we hold God as simply having bought our lunch. Do not be deceived. The gospel of Jesus Christ, His passion, His cross, is not about God’s free lunch generosity that gets forgotten shortly after we say some quick prayer with sing-songy music playing behind us. Unless we have all-surrendering awe of Him who saved us, we have no part in Him. Only when we understand the gospel rightly are we willing to do whatever He asks of us. Not to try to pay back, but because of our profound love and gratitude toward Him for rescuing us.
So…did God buy your lunch or save you from choking to death?