The parable of the hot dog

Thursday, May 4, 2017

As a protestant Christian, I believe that salvation is by grace alone. That is to say, salvation is entirely a free gift of God that He gives in Jesus Christ irrespective of anything we have done to deserve or earn it. You don’t become a Christian based on your behavior. You become a Christian by accepting the gift.

But if that is the case, then why should we stop sinning? If God is going to forgive us anyway, why shouldn’t we just do what we want and then look to the cross to cover our wrongdoing?

There are a lot of reasons that isn’t a good idea, but one of the biggest is because as Christians we are now living our lives as an offering to God. Romans 6:13 says: “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”

To understand what this means, consider the parable of the hot dog:

Imagine holding a barbecue for someone you want to impress. In the process of getting the hot dogs outside, one of them rolls off the plate and onto the ground. You pick it up. It's gotten a few pieces of gravel stuck to it, but otherwise it's OK. You brush off the most obvious debris, and throw it on the grill.

As the hot dogs cook, the phone rings and you go to answer it. While you are gone, the flames get out of control and our hot dog — the one that fell to the ground earlier — gets burned beyond recognition. You pick it up with your tongs and you can see the ashes flaking off of it. It's mostly black, with just a few pink spots where the skin has cracked. You shrug your shoulders and put it on the edge of the grill.

Then, a little later, the kids come tearing by and accidentally bump the grill. You don't notice it, but the gravel-encrusted, charcoal hot dog gets knocked to the ground and kicked into the newly cut lawn. As it bounces along, the moist, exposed parts of the hot dog collect little bits of fresh grass clippings. When it comes to rest, a colony of ants discover it and send out workers to investigate.

The hot dog is now spotted with little bits of stone and sand, burned to a consistency of charcoal, sprouting little green beards at funny angles, and crawling with ants. But you haven't noticed it.

The dog, however, has.

Now, normally, your dog will eat anything. He's a dog, after all. But after a few inquisitive sniffs and an investigatory lick or two, he decides that even he doesn't want this hot dog.

At about the same time that the dog is depositing his drool on the frankfurter, you decide it is time to head back into the house. As you load up the platter, you notice the dog snuffling around and you go to investigate. You see the hot dog and wonder how it got away, then you stoop to pick it up. ...

The question now is: is this what you are going to present to that person you want to impress? Are you going to whip out a bun and load it up with this black, ant-infested, grass covered, gritty, dog slobbery excuse for a hot dog and serve it to your guest? Of course not!

Then why would you want to foul yourself up with sin and then present yourself to God? Why would you want to mess around with all of the things God finds distasteful and displeasing and then offer yourself to him? It just doesn't make sense.

Yes, God forgives sin. But, in view of his mercy, we should offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is our spiritual act of worship. (Rom. 12:1)