The One Thing I’ve Learned Watching NCIS

I am a huge fan of Mark Harmon, even from back in the day. No hateration, issa a very few white men that’s attractive to me and he is one. So I’ve experienced manifold delights over the seemingly endless seasons and episodes featuring Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, former marine sniper turned criminal investigator for the Navy. Ooo-rah.

Anyway, part of the draw of the show for me beyond his dashing good looks is that he often peppered his team with these “rules” that his character Gibbs lived by. Gems like:

  • Never be unreachable.
  • Never accept an apology from someone who just sucker punched you.
  • When the job is done, walk away.
  • If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are.
  • Bend the line, don’t break it.
  • Clean up your messes.

Good stuff, no?

As the series has progressed, characters have come and gone in ways that have broken my whole heart–like they were family. Despite my emotional investment, I also noticed that the rules began to expand and change, rules now being given by not only Gibbs but by team members, too. As the cast evolved, so did the sacred rules.

And I caught a little bit of God in there. Cuz you know I’m always looking for God. Wisdom is the principle thing, my G.

Anyway, what I recognized was this: YOU CANNOT BRING OLD RULES INTO NEW SPACES.

Lots of struggle happens simply because we do not attend to the shifting that happens around us and in us. We keep trying to make an old thing work in a new time. Nowhere is this more evident than the church, where there is a dying off–not because people aren’t looking for Jesus, but because the methods of drawing the lost are antiquated. God is immutable, but God’s methods are infinite. And new things are kinda God’s thing. He likes to amaze. Cuz. You know. He’s amazing. Yet here we are–order of service still the same. Same songs. Same sermons. Same Sunday school book. Same programs. Same musicals. Same churches visiting other churches. Same guest speakers.

God keeps giving us new wine and we keep wasting it cuz the old wineskins keep busting.

Even Leroy Jethro Gibbs knew this–that new people, new spaces, new experiences require us to update and adjust the old rules that we’ve live by. And if a fictional TV character has figured it out, what’s stopping us?


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