The West Wing, The Glory of God, and The Gospel of John

“I serve at the pleasure of the President.”

It’s impossible to binge The West Wing without consistently hearing the above phrase. One of my favorite shows in existence, the seven seasons track President Bartlett’s fictional administration and the ups and downs of life inside the West Wing of the White House.

I recently rewatched the series (applause for the laudable sacrifice of my time can be held until the end of this piece). While watching, I discovered something that had previously gone unnoticed: President Bartlett’s staff lived to make him look great. Certainly, it was done imperfectly and was stained at times by self-advancement or mistakes, but it was still the chief aim of their lives.

They lived by one question: “How can I best serve the president?” Relationships went forsaken, personal dreams went unachieved, sacrifice was constant. While all of the characters were remarkable in their own right, certainly worthy of praise and advancement, their focus remained on making the White House and their commander-in-chief look great.

While an imperfect reflection, I was immediately drawn to the parallels between The West Wing and a story told in the Gospel of John.

In the third chapter, John’s disciples are distraught by the fact that suddenly, all focus is on Jesus. They believe that John is not receiving the credit that he is due. You can almost feel the smile on John’s face as he responds, stopping his disciples’ outrage in its tracks.

“To this John replied, ‘A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.’” (John 3:27-30, emphasis added)

It was one thing for the characters of The West Wing to stand sacrificially and wholeheartedly behind the leader of the free world for eight years. It is quite another to live and die for an unpopular carpenter from Nazareth. Yet, in pursuit of the glory of God on earth, that’s exactly what John did.

As followers of Christ, our lives are marked by one singular aim: to make God’s glory well known. He must become greater, we must be less. He is worthy; we must tell the world.

Let our rallying cry be, “I live to make the glory of God well known and enjoy Him forever and ever.”

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