The Office welcomes Ananias and Sapphira

The Office portrays the goings on in the Scranton branch office of the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company. The characters are all like normal people, but since it’s television, their personality traits,while real, are exaggerated. So when I watch the show I see people who remind me of people I know.

What sets apart The Office from other shows that feature the personality quirks of the characters (like Seinfeld, for example), is the whole idea that the employees of Dunder-Mifflin are constantly being filmed documentary-style. So not only are they quirky, they are being filmed, and they are aware they are being filmed.

What becomes apparent as you watch the show more than a couple of times is this awareness that all the characters have that they are on camera. Frequently they will say or do something good and then quickly glance at the camera as if to make sure their shining moment was caught on tape. Or, they will forget momentarily that they are being recorded and say or do something that makes them look bad. Then you see them nervously look at the camera as if to say, “Oh yeah, I am being filmed and people are going to think I am a jerk.” They then begin saying and doing things in damage control mode, to make themselves look better.

Everything these Dunder-Mifflin employees do or say becomes a performance in front of the cameras. Rarely do you see their genuine personality come through. They are keenly aware of appearances. They are constantly worried how they look. They are always mindful of what people will think about them. Because the cameras are rolling, they live to impress people.

As I was reading Acts 5 this week the thought occurred to me that Ananias and Sapphira would have been great characters on The Office. After all, when they saw people selling their land and making donations to the church they realized those people were respected for their generosity. Since they wanted people to think highly of them, they “played to the camera,” selling their property and giving the proceeds of the sale to the church.

The only problem was, they lied, claiming they had given all the money to the church when actually they kept back some for themselves. They wanted respect, but for them the way to get respect was not to be worthy of respect by being generous, but to have the appearance of generosity without really making the sacrifice needed to be generous. If you have ever known someone who lived his life this way, you know what a tortured existence it can be. The person can never truly be himself, he is constantly playing to the camera, as it were.

This brings me back to the question I have wrestling with this week — why do I do what I do? Am I always playing to the camera? Do I decide what to do based on what will get me the most attention or admiration? Am I obsessed with my how my actions look to others?

Or is there a deeper, purer motive behind my actions?

Why do I do what I do?

"The Injury"

Michael Scott: “I enjoy having breakfast in bed. I like waking up to the smell of bacon, sue me. And since I don’t have a butler, I have to do it myself. So, most nights before I go to bed, I will lay six strips of bacon out on my George Foreman grill. Then I go to sleep. When I wake up, I plug in the grill. I go back to sleep again. Then I wake up to the smell of crackling bacon. It is delicious, it’s good for me, it’s the perfect way to start the day.”

Can You Imagine?


While waiting for the new season of The Office to begin, I came across this quote from Dwight Schrute. Enjoy!

“I.D. badges are long overdue. Security in this office park is a joke. Last year, I came to work with my spud gun in a duffel bag. I sat at my desk all day, with a rifle that shoots potatoes at 60 pounds per square inch. Can you imagine if I was deranged?”

Schrute on Loyalty

“Would I ever leave this company? Look, I’m all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I’m being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly, I’m going wherever they value loyalty the most.” Dwight Schrute on The Office

Sometimes our self-centeredness warps our virtues to the point they are but offerings made on the altar of our own self-worship.

God, help us sort out our motives.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 ).

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

The Price

So I’m just laying there on the couch, sick with the flu. When I wake up I realize the television is on but I’m not really watching it — it is just there in the room, kind of like the paint and the wallpaper. I’m in a daze, a fever induced trance.

Glancing over at the table I see the book I want to be reading, but I don’t have the energy to pick it up and read. Besides, if I did try to read the pages would probably be spinning before my eyes.

A new television show comes on and I realize it must be the top of the hour.

After about fifteen minutes I realize I am now watching television and become aware of what I am witnessing. Maybe the Tylenol kicked in and my fever dropped. For whatever reason my eyes were actually focused on the screen.

Contestants come on down. Contrived games are played. A big wheel is spun. Prices are guessed. Sweeping gestures are made by models. Contestants win and lose.

They cry.

They jump up and down.

They scream.

They are overcome with emotion at jackpots and showcases.

And I wonder why I have never heard the morality watchdogs express warnings about this show. After all, they get all worked up about most any presentation of sexuality, why not at this? But its not just the watchdogs — its me. Have I become so acculturated that I no longer recognize greed? Have I become so comfortable in the dominant culture that I no longer live according to an alternative spiritual culture?

I mute the television. Words from God begin swirling around in my head.

“But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9 NLT).

“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” (1 John 5:21 NLT).

“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5 NLT).

And I drifted back to sleep.

God, my Father, I need to wake up.