What Leslie Knope and Jesus have in common
Okay, before you write me off for blasphemy, hear me out.
First of all, I love Parks and Rec. There are a few moments of course that don't line up with Church teaching, but in general, I have found it to be one of the most light-hearted, full of joy shows I've ever watched. Plus, I identify with Leslie Knope in just about every way (except for probably her political views).
Anyway, I was thinking the other night about how Leslie is super dedicated and loves to help Pawnee and is just about the greatest human ever. Yet, her hometown doesn't appreciate what she's done for them, all the hours she's dedicated to their service, even to the point of removing slugs from a cantankerous woman's house with a smile on her face. In fact, they recall her (instead of the obnoxious Jeremy Jamm or the scandal-infested Bill Dexhart) and are the most ungrateful bunch of people you'd ever meet. It takes Leslie moving to the top of government to become truly successful, but then people seem to finally appreciate her for her dedication, because in the series finale, we find out that she has been the governor of Indiana for two terms by that point.
This is a common theme throughout the show, unappreciation by the people who should support you the most. Leslie's husband, Ben, is also unappreciated by his hometown; they even give him a key to the city that was made of ice and melted just to make fun of him. (Although, let's be real, Icetown did sound like a disaster. What did they think was going to happen when they hired a kid mayor?!)
But back to the Jesus connection. (Sorry, I can go off on Parks and Rec quotes all day). As I was thinking about Leslie's rise the other night, I realized the same thing happened to Jesus: He too was driven out of His hometown because they did not believe He was genuine. (I really want to make a Ginuine pun here, but I'm resisting.) Because they'd known Him His whole life, they did not believe He was the Son of God, so His dedication and zeal were viewed distrustfully. As a result, they tried to killed Him, but He passed through the midst of them.
Clearly, Jesus is much greater than Leslie Knope, but it does teach us an important lesson about evangelization: it's sometimes hard to evangelize to those people who you know. Leslie knows that, Ben knows that, and so does Jesus. The important lesson we learn here though is to never give up on them, even though it is the hardest sell. Because it is often in our hometowns, among the people we know the best, that we also have the best chance of making a true difference, of giving a pitch for Christ that might actually be listened to.
Or we'll be recalled and kicked out of town. Either way, at least we know of two really great people who've been in our shoes.