Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The convergence of J. I. Packer and Aaron Sorkin... Knowing God in The West Wing

In our Monday night men's Bible study group, we have recently started going through the book Knowing God, by J. I. Packer. It is an excellent book so far, and we just did the third chapter this week. A particular passage stood out to me while I read it:

Imagine, now, that we are going to be introduced to someone whom we feel to be "above" us-whether in rank, or intellectual distinction, or professional skill, or personal sanctity, or in some other respect. The more conscious we are of our own inferiority, the more we shall feel that our part is simply to attend to this person respectfully and let him take the initiative in the conversation. (Think of meeting the queen of England, or the president of the United States.) We would like to get to know this exalted person, but we fully realize that this is a matter for him to decide, not us. If he confines himself to courteous formalities with us, we may be disappointed, but we do not feel able to complain; after all, we had no claim on his friendship.

But if instead he starts at once to take us into his confidence, and tells us frankly what is in his mind on matters of common concern, and if he goes on to invite us to join him in particular undertakings he has planned, and asks us to make ourselves permanently available for this kind of collaboration whenever he needs us, then we shall feel enormously privileged, and it will make a world of difference to our general outlook. If life seemed unimportant and dreary hitherto, it will not seem so any more, now that the great man has enrolled us among his personal assistants. Here is something to write home about-and something to live up to!

It reminded me of a recent episode that I had seen of The West Wing. I am currently enjoying this show for the first time, and am only in the second season thus far.

There is a character named Ainsley Hayes, who is a political analyst and lawyer. Sounds like she would fit right in with the West Wing crew? Perhaps, except one thing. She is a Republican. And the current occupant of said West Wing is a Democrat, and not a moderate one. She is completely opposed to the President's policies. However, because she is intelligent, President Bartlett offered her a job in the White House Counsel's office. She wasn't going to take it at first, but then realized something. The President of the United States of America was asking her, personally, to put aside whatever she wanted, and serve her country. So, she agreed to do her civic duty. She became a valuable part of that team.

The parallels between what I had recently watched and what I was reading hit me very profoundly. God, much like Jed Bartlett, chooses who He wants to be on His team. We, like Ainsley Hayes, must agree to do so, since it is our duty. In the television show, the two characters don't see eye to eye on most issues. Contrast that to us and God. Our hearts should be tuned to His, along with our will. We should desire the same things our He desires. How much more enthusiastically will we work for God? Just something to think about.

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