Imagine a business office. Imagine that this office has a manager. This manager doesn’t emphasize productivity, but instead intrudes upon people’s personal lives. This manager isn’t too concerned with finances, but is highly concerned that everyone be friends and interact like a big family. Instead of harping on “company policies,” “safety protocols,” and “productivity,” this manager puts on magic shows, throws parties, and makes everyone participate in murder mystery games. Let’s call this manager Michael Scott.
Now imagine the corporate office of this company sends an executive to spy on the freedoms mentioned above. This executive (let’s call him Charles Miner) is all about “productivity,” “professionalism,” and “pragmatism.” Charles sees no value in parties, magic shows, and/or murder mystery games; and he certainly doesn’t want people to get distracted by, and entangled in, each other’s private affairs.
Charles Miner makes a lot of sense. He has a logical plan for productivity. He keeps things professional. He protects against things becoming too personal. He keeps up appearances, and advocates for high-performing business practices. Moreover, Charles manages with a pragmatically effective demeanor of intimidation, and “motivating” employees by incessantly monitoring them.
Michael Scott on the other hand doesn’t so much intimidate people, but instead he is intrusive. For example, if you are an employee of the company and you have a problem with over-indulging in alcohol (let’s just say your name is Meredith Palmer), then he will force everyone in the office to stop working, and engage in the awkward and inconvenient work of confronting you on your sin (Matthew 18:15-20); and he will apply liberal amounts of positive pressure on you to go to rehab (Hebrews 12). Or, let’s say you’re pregnant (we’ll call you “Pam Halpert”), Michael will insist on being intimately involved in all the details of your pregnancy. He wants to be the first to know, he wants to monitor your contractions, he wants to drive you to the hospital, he wants to be in the delivery room, and he insists on having a personal and substantive role in the child’s life (nevermind the fact that he clearly isn’t the biological father, or in any way biologically related to you).
Now this may be interpreted allegorically. Charles Miner represents the law (Galatians 5:21), the men from James (Galatians 2:12), the Pharisees (Mark 12:38-40), the false brothers who come in to spy out our freedom in Christ Jesus so that they might bring us into slavery (Galatians 2:4). And though Charles aims to enslave us, we are nevertheless attracted to him (Galatians 2:12-13; 4:9). For example, let’s pretend there is an employee (we’ll call her “Angela Martin) who is quite comfortable and content with legalistic environments, and she self-righteously feels that she holds up quite well under severe scrutiny. Or, let’s say there is an employee (we’ll call her “Kelly Kapoor”) who is all about “image,” and because Charles keeps up appearances, and appeals to her addiction to living by sight and operate primarily in accordance with her craving to be governed by physical senses; she is smitten with the managerial presence of Mr. Miner.
Michael Scott, on the otherhand, represents the intrusive reality of God’s grace. Michael doesn’t even have a college degree and yet he has risen to a position of authority in the company. Michael is like all those leaders in the history of God’s kingdom manifest on earth …people who most certainly did not merit their managerial positions, but rather were positioned by God to display the power of the Maker being perfected through their weakness (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Moses, Deborah, Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, David, Bathsheba, Abigail, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jonah, Habakkuk, Peter, Joanna, Mary of Bethany, James, John, Paul, Titus, etc.). Michael represents the woman in Bethany who intrusively invited herself into an intimate personal meeting of Jesus and His closest friends, in order that she might intimately invest and involve herself in the most important mission of Jesus’ life (Mark 14:1-9). Michael is like Joanna (wife of Chuza), who keeps the ministry of Jesus financially solvent, but in a way no MBA program would ever prescribe or predict (Luke 8:3). Michael, like the prophets and apostles insists on stewarding mysteries over and above ‘professionalism,’ ‘productivity,’ and/or ‘pragmatic performance.’ Michael, like the father in Luke 15, insists on having parties (even for categorical screw-ups like Ryan Howard)!
So let me leave you with this, “Do you want to be under the management of Charles Miner/the law? Or do you want to be under the management of Michael Scott/the mysterious, unmerited, grace of God?”