This morning (and last night) I watched two episodes of CBS’ new show Undercover Boss, which has CEO’s go undercover as grunts in their own company.  Frankly, I was moved - and that's saying something. 

One of the episodes takes place inside of the Hooter’s restaurant business.  As you might expect, there is a chauvinistic manager named Jimbo.  What you might not expect is the other manager worth emulating.  (I suppose making a saint of a Hooter’s manager is about as close to Jesus’ story of neighborly Samaritan as it gets.?

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard quotes a story from Guideposts in which an ordinary Suburban housewife supposedly saw a ball of white light through her window, spraying showers of multicolored light in its wake...Instantly she knew this was Jesus for his eyes were full of absolute caring and unconditional love. According to her account, Jesus remained with her like this for three months, then his presence began to fade, though he told her “I will always be with you.” She asked him how she would know it is she could no longer see him. Jesus replied, “You will see me.” Some years later when she was speaking to a church group, she found his eyes looking into hers again—but the eyes belonged to a woman in the second row. And suddenly she saw his eyes looking at her from the eyes of every person in the room (88).

Whether this inspirational story is exaggerated or even fallacious matters very little to me, because we know from Scripture that this is the kind of thing God does. God went undercover in Jesus, and it must run the family because Jesus is constantly in disguise.

Mary didn’t recognize him near the tomb, mistaking him for a gardener. Jn 20:13-17
The disciples mistook him for a foreigner on the road to Emmaus. Lk 24:13ff
Ultimately no one seems to recognize him in the persons of the poor, naked and imprisoned. Mt 25:31ff

Jesus, is, after all, the ultimate undercover boss.

What if we lived like Jesus just might be undercover as
our incompetent co-worker,
our annoying family member,
our emotionally needy friend,
the homeless person on the corner,
the clumsy clerk at the grocery store,
the slow driver on the freeway,
the person texting during a movie,
or the off-tune person singing next to us at church?

The author of Hebrews advised this kind of thoughtfulness for a similar reason: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Heb 13:2

Last night a friend told me about a very affluent church that had a homeless person try to attend a worship service. Though he was creating no disturbance, they called the police and had him escorted out. I couldn’t help but wonder out loud if they hadn’t unknowingly ushered Jesus out of their church.

As the undercover boss, Jesus isn’t just spying on us to see how we’ll treat him, he’s undercover so that he can be with us in a tangible way; so we can freely choose to love him. He’s undercover for our sake, not his own. John Ortberg (borrowing, as he so often does from Willard) points out that God, in his mercy, allows us to live as if he's not present. If we were forced to be aware of God’s presence it would be like driving with a police officer trailing us.

Willard says it with even more pith: “God hides so that we can hide.” For if God did not obscure his visibility we would perish--not to mention that our freedom would be significantly impaired.

If we don’t want to see God, we don’t have to. But whether you see him or not, you should know, he IS undercover in your life. Forget about Waldo and Carmen SanDiego – the question is "Where’s Jesus?" 

Ears that hear and eyes that see— the LORD has made them both. Proverbs 20:12

1 comment:

  1. I came to the same conclusion and wrote a blog post about it today at:


    In testing to see how the post came up on Google, I just found your blog. Great minds think alike, and if you see my post, I just want you to know I’m not plagiarizing.