Real life is complicated, sometimes hard, often stressful, and quite often stranger than fiction. One of our (the collective ‘we’) preferred escapes is television. Even if it is designed to be informative or educational, TV is entertaining. Generally speaking, we watch TV to get away from real life.
A show I have found entertaining enough to start watching the short lived series again from the beginning is Designated Survivor. It’s a show about a US President who is well intentioned, good natured, kind hearted, and cares more about people than politics. Like I said… TV is an escape from real life.
Keifer Sutherland stars as the accidental President (Tom Kirkman) who tries to bring the nation back together after a catastrophic terror attack wipes out just about all of the three branches of the federal government. One of the first and more ridiculous plot twists in season 1 centers the FBI Deputy Director, Jason Atwood, played by Malik Yoba. I won’t tell you what happens, because I’m sure you’re itching to watch it for yourself lol
…or maybe not.
Anyway… in one particular episode, as the FBI Deputy Director, Jason Atwood is tasked with overseeing the vetting of a Vice Presidential nominee. Congressman Peter MacLeish, played by Ashley Zuckerman, has accepted President Kirman’s offer to become the Vice President. As a bit of a power play, he makes a surprise visit to Deputy Director Atwood’s office and voluntarily drops off some paperwork to save the FBI some manpower.
Let me just pause and tell you this: if you are looking into someone who needs your trust more than you need them in your circle, trust the information you find on your own or comes to you independently. People who need your approval more than you need them around at all will always give you the information that doesn’t implicate them in any malfeasance. Rarely will people bring you their hidden secrets or dirty laundry.
So, Congressman MacLeish shows up unannounced with a stack of papers, supposedly showing that he has nothing to hide. Atwood isn’t a stupid character. He doesn’t fall for it. He comes around from behind his desk, sitting on the front of it—in an elevated position over MacLeish, who is seated in a chair. He looks down at him and says (definitely paraphrasing here):
“What’s on paper is what people want you to see. What’s on paper can be prepared and controlled. That doesn’t always tell the whole story. As we move through life, we have impact on people—there is an imprint we leave behind. That’s what we’re interested in… and that’s what we’ll find.”
There is an imprint we leave behind.
If you struggle with lust, you know all about imprints. If you are a moderately modest person, you know about them as well. One person tries to make sure their clothing does not offer any shades, shadows, or showings of what lies beneath; the other looks hard to see what is not shown. Yes. I went there. It’s lust. Deal with it. That’s not judgement you feel, it’s conviction. Amen. Moving along.
Imprints are impressions. They aren’t necessarily tangible and you can’t always quite put your finger on them sometimes. When you encounter people, you’re left feeling a certain way or another. When people encounter you, they’re left feeling some kind of way too!
We are not responsible for the feelings of other people. Feelings are real and valid; however, they are not always aligned with reality. Nonetheless, we are responsible for the imprint we leave behind. The imprints we leave behind inform how others feel about us. How do you leave people feeling?
The fact that we’re not responsible for other people’s feelings does not get us entirely off the hook for how people feel when they cross paths with us. You not being responsible for my feelings is simply a fact that empowers me to take charge of my own feelings and emotions. But if you say or do something that impacts me and leaves me feeling a certain way, telling me that you’re not responsible for how I feel is not only a copout, it’s a form of abuse and manipulation.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes this statement:
Matthew 7:12-20 | “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
In your Bible reading, be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of allowing the section headers to define scripture for you. Only the Holy Spirit can truly reveal, but we can at least read scripture in context.
A basic summary of this passage:
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Don’t choose the easy path… the way everyone else is going.
- Do the extra work and take the extra steps that lead to life. In this broader context, this can be understood to suggest that we ought to be more precise in our treatment of others… not just treating people any kind of way because it’s easy, but choosing the narrow path—the small gate. Doing the little things and making the considerations for others that we would like others to make for us.
- Some people are fake. They look good on paper… they appear nice on the outside, but the imprint they leave is bad fruit.
- Editor’s Note: Don’t be this person.
- You can always tell what type of tree you’re looking at by the fruit on its branches.
Thinking of the imprints we leave on others as fruit: leave behind fruit that is good. Not fruit that just looks good. Plastic fruit looks good. Leave behind fruit that is actually good. No sour grapes, no bad apples, avoid going bananas, and don’t leave behind lemons without also offering some sugar.
Some acts of kindness may cost a little money, but kindness itself is free.
Keith Goosby II is the founding minister of NET Church. He has served in ministry for over 20 years, in various capacities–including music, social media management, teaching, preaching, consulting, and leadership. Keith’s first church experience as a child was a home church. Since then, he has attended and served at churches sizing from just a few to over 10,000–of various denominations and affiliations. As NET Church is being planted, Keith continues to serve at his Dallas home church, Golden Gate MBC, in Dallas, TX, under the leadership of Minister Vincent T. Parker. Keith is married and currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife and three sons.