The basic premise of the show is for a chief executive officer of a large company to disguise his or her identity, posing as a job seeker being trailed by a camera crew. The individual visits a handful of sites over the course of a week, hoping to gain an “on the ground” perspective of how well the business is running. Along the way, we get to see the boss attempt everything from washing toilets, parking cars, packing boxes, waiting on tables, and working an assembly line.
Sometimes the results are hilarious, such as when the head of an airline company mistakenly leaks, uh, waste on himself while draining the loo of an airplane. Or when the owner of a baseball stadium gets fired for his inability to sell hot dogs quickly enough. But for what could simply be a gimmicky series, episodes typically take a markedly personal turn.
The undercover boss is impacted in ways he or she never expected. They are humbled by their frequent stumbles in trying to learn new tasks. They gain a real-life respect and appreciation for the hard work and integrity of their company’s frontline workers. Sometimes, they are ashamed to see how corporate policies are negatively impacting employees. But almost always, the undercover boss is indelibly moved by the deeply human interactions that unfold along the way. A recovering alcoholic, a single mom, a bereaved parent, a young adult trying to overcome huge odds ~ these are the Faces that emerge from what once was an anonymous roster of employees.
The underlying tension throughout the show is whether or not the boss’s cover will be blown before the Big Reveal. After all, if workers knew who they were *really* dealing with, how honest would they be? The identity of the boss must remain hidden if the experiment is to be successful.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if God likewise went undercover. Imagine, the Biggest Boss of All Bosses coming to rub shoulders with everyday folk like you and me. Seeing our struggles firsthand. Feeling the weight of our temptations and failings. Listening to our hopes and dreams. Walking with us, laughing with us, crying with us…and being indelibly moved as a result. An incredible thought, isn’t it?
In many ways, of course, this is a story we already know, the story of The Coming.
“God pitched his tent among us, and moved into the neighborhood…”
The difference, though, is that God isn’t worried about blowing His cover, or leaking His identity. In fact, for some mysterious and merciful reason, God goes undercover precisely so that He can be known. Wrapped in human flesh, He allows us to touch the Limitless with our very own hands. He puts aside every trapping of power, every rightful superiority, and invites us to simply…come. There at the manger, there is no room for fear, or pride, or being anything other than who we already are. The Undercover Boss has personally made that journey for us on our behalf.
And so we celebrate The Coming. May our hearts draw near to the One who still desires to be known and revealed in our lives.