Recently my wife and I were traveling to a meeting in central Ohio. Our route took us near an idyllic North Carolina town called Mt. Airy. For those who do not know, Mt. Airy’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace and childhood home of Andy Griffith. From his recollections of his hometown, Andy created the Andy Griffith show and the wonderful American town of Mayberry. Many of us baby boomers can remember gathering around black and white television sets to watch the stories of Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bea, Gomer, and even Otis unfold.
As Nancy and I strolled the streets of Mt. Airy - I mean Mayberry - we saw the sights like Floyd’s Barber Shop, the courthouse, and we even saw the patrol car go by and later saw it parked in front of Wally’s Service Station. It was a beautiful North Carolina day; and for a few minutes, thoughts of North Korea, Russian collusion, and immigration were replaced with some peaceful memories.
I know that we cannot return to a place that never truly existed; but as we sat on a park bench enjoying a blueberry pastry, we spoke of the gentle ways of the Mayberry residents that believers should still practice today. Let me mention just two.
No matter how busy and stressful our world, we as believers should practice kindness. In the multitude of great blessings that God extends to us, we rarely note that God shows us kindness.
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
He then commands us to be kind towards others.
Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
I love how Strong’s Concordance defines the word: “We are to be easy with one another, gentle with one another.” In our world we have become rude, putting ourselves first in nearly every way and berating others with unkind words and actions. If I were not a Christian, I still would have been offended by the coarse way that the so-called comedienne berated Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Sadly, her crass and insulting talk has become common place in our society. Mayberry residents did not always agree with one another, or even like one another, but they were courteous and respectful of one another. It is not a compromise to be gentle and kind with someone you disagree with. In fact, it might be the best way to win them to your position.
Another aspect of life in Mayberry was that people were positive and hopeful about each other and the circumstances of life. They loved each other and respected even the “flawed” people. There were some real characters in Mayberry, and many had serious problem; but they were not hated or discarded. The Scripture goes on in Colossians 3 to tell us:
Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
In Mayberry you may have had serious character issues, like Otis, or you may have been downright irritating, like Ernest T. Bass; but you were respected as the creation of God you were, and there was always hope that you would do the right thing. Believers need to be hopeful people, not just for their own lives, but for the lives of others. Our God changed us, is changing us, and He can change them.
Yes, I know it was an unreal town and a fairy-tale life, but let an old man dream! I hope that we can see that even though we cannot live in Mayberry, we can go back to Mayberry… by treating one another with kindness, forbearance, and forgiveness.