Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Following in the footsteps of Gomer, Jed Clampett, and Barney Fife

As a kid, I watched a lot of TV after school. At that time of day, the choices were soaps, game shows, and reruns of shows which were popular in the 50's & 60's. I typically chose the reruns. The list of shows I liked included Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy, Lost in Space, and many more.

Five TV shows in this rerun rotation had one thing in common. See if you can tell what that one thing is:



Gomer Pyle
The Andy Griffith Show
The Beverly Hillbillies
Petticoat Junction
Green Acres

That's right: they all featured hillbillies: characters with Southern accents, limited formal education, and a glaring absence of sophistication. When the hicks crossed paths with non-hicks, hilarity ensued. Many laughs were squeezed from the contrast between the hillbillies and "book-smart" people. Of course, the moral of many of the episodes was that the dumb hicks often had more wisdom than the city folks whom they were up against.

Around 2000 years ago, a God-man named Jesus chose to use a dozen guys to get the ball rolling on the greatest movement in the history of the world. A revolution that would put all the rest of them to shame. A message of hope, eternal life, healing, purpose, destiny, and God's love for all people.  

Who were these guys He trusted to start this thing with?  You'd think a bunch of dour-faced, seminary-trained Type-A men who were well-versed in Scripture and prayed 10 hours a day and spoke multiple languages. Guys with first names like Biff or Blake who worked on their thesis while on the Yale rowing team. But instead, He chose hillbillies. Tax collectors. Fishermen. Even the guys who fixed nets used by the fishermen. The only educated one of the bunch was a doctor, which hardly was a qualification for leading this initiative that was about to turn the world upside down.

These guys were the Jethro Bodines, the Gomer Pyles, the Floyd the Barbers. That's who He chose. And like Barney Fife, they shot themselves in the foot a time or two. But God chose these hicks to confront the educated Pharisees and tell them what's what about the Messiah and the real meaning of the Law.

These doofuses were to teach the so-called teachers about how God wanted to bring the message of His love to the Gentiles, the poor, the prostitutes, and even those dastardly Samaritans. The hillbillies got to be the ones who showed the world how Jesus paid their ransom with His death, resurrection and ascension. About how God has work for us to do.

To this day, many supposedly wise people, whether or not they are professing God-followers, look down on the unsophisticated, the uneducated, the people with a shady past. Heck, I know I do. All the time. But modern Christians are following in the footsteps of the 1st-century versions of Jed Clampett and Mr Haney. They don't look like much, but with God equipping them, they did great things.  And so can we.

What does this mean for us in the 21st-century? It means that if we're willing to not worry about looking undignified, God will be able to use us to do something spectacular. It's not just for the "smart" people, or the smooth talkers. Nobody is ineligible. No one.

My new motto: Be a hillbilly; make a difference.

1 Corinthians 1:25-27 
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,

1 comment:

Bill said...

Great post! Very well written. I want an Acts 4:13 kind of education:
The members of the Council were amazed to see how bold Peter and John were and to learn that they were ordinary men of no education. They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus.