In Search Of Mayberry
By Dr. Mike Murphy
Being like most men, I am an expert channel surfer. I can wear the numbers off a remote in less than a month. As I sat the other day to talk with a long time friend, I found myself with the phone in one hand and the remote in the other. Over two hundred and fifty channels, and I still could not find a thing to watch. As I told my friend of my dilemma, he joked with me that maybe I could find an old episode of the Andy Griffith Show.
Like so many others, I grew up watching reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. It had often been a running joke for many of us that we would love to find Mayberry one day. Move there, and put the worries of this world behind us. To find this simple town, where you spend the day talking with your friends and neighbors, not texting to them on the cell phone as we go about our busy lives. A place where you not only know your neighbor’s names, but desire to help your neighbor with their needs. A town where the greatest worries involved making sure the jail cell was unlocked for Otis on weekend nights, whether Barney knew where the bullet was for his gun, and how you would find good hiding places in order to get rid of Aunt Bee’s pickles.
Mayberry takes us back to a simple, but good life. A life where “love thy God”, and “love thy neighbor” were more than just words that had once been read on a page (Matthew 22:36-40). A place and time where morals were not an afterthought, but a forethought. A place where right and wrong were not decided in the moment, but practiced and keep in the hearts and minds of each every moment. A place where good was not sought in the minds of men, but looked for in the One who created the heart of man.
If we were to search this world for Mayberry today, we would spend a lifetime and not find the place or town. In a world where so many of us seek a Mayberry, we find ourselves in a world that looks to destroy the very concept behind Mayberry. A world we live in that is filled to the brim with confusion. A world where good is no longer sought, because it is believed to be nothing more than a passing thought. A world where man is told to look within himself for good, instead of seeking the only One who can show him what true goodness is.
We watch as the world today seeks to define good without God. Man looks for good in his own nature, instead of finding good in God’s standards and teachings. Man looks to define good by his own vision, not through God’s eyes, and not in relation to God’s purpose. Famous atheist Richard Dawkins once attempted to define good and evil without God. He did it this way, ““Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life…life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA…life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference”. Despite the meaningless purpose that Dawkins sees life holding, look at the conclusion about life we see in his words. In the midst of all of Dawkins words, even the most devout atheist is left trying to define and explain the impossible. If right and wrong is ultimately for survival, then right or wrong will be seen differently in every situation. Based on Dawkins way of thinking, there could never be a standard of right or wrong that man could live by. No standard by which laws could be given, no expectation by which crime could ever be stopped.
Without a standard of right and wrong, whatever I deemed necessary in my situation, could never be denied me. The very thing I might see as right today, could well become the very thing my neighbor decides is wrong tomorrow. Without even realizing it, Dawkins has made Scripture’s point. Without God, without Him setting a standard that clearly defines good and evil, man would never know what good and evil is. Without God, man is left with nothing more than chaos as the governing force of our lives.
As we look at the chaos of this world today, we see our society constantly seeking to explain good without God. But when the honest man takes a moment to think, he quickly realizes where the conclusion of this argument leads. C. S. Lewis once found himself in this very position, looking for good in every direction but “Up”. Of this, he would go on to write, “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” C.S. Lewis came to the conclusion in his life, that without God, he was incapable of defining good. That without God, he had no way of ever understanding what is good. And all this led him to realize that only in having a personal relationship with God, could he ever come to see good (Exodus 34:6, James 1;17).
Lewis came to love and understand what the Word of God tells us, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.’” (Luke 18:19). Realizing, you cannot have good without God. You cannot know good if you do not first know God. And you cannot see good without first seeing God.
It is from this basic acknowledgement that only the Lord can define for us good and evil, that draws us back to the simplicity of Mayberry. A place where we see good and evil so clearly defined. A place where our love for our Lord, and our call to love our neighbor, takes center stage. A place that reminds us, if He is truly the love of our life, then our concern for our neighbor will be found as a priority in our life.
Mayberry draws us back to a place where the neighbor we stand beside as we worship Him on Sunday, is still found in the thoughts and concerns of our heart come Monday. A love for our neighbor that finds us quicker to reach out a hand to them, than to be found gossiping about them. A love that finds us looking to share what we have with them, not remembered for the grudge we held for days against them. And a love that leads us to want to share Christ with them, because at some point in our life, a loving and faithful neighbor was willing to share Christ with us (Matthew 7:12).
Mayberry, a place of simple goodness so many of us wish we could find, a place we wish we could call home while we are here on this earth. We would love nothing more than to be able to talk to Helen at the PTA meetings. Or to be able to step in the Barber Shop and tell Floyd “just take a little off the top”. Or even to be able to ask Goober to check the oil as we fill up our gas tank. But as we long for this perceived utopia on this earth, we must realize that the goodness we seek does not come at the hands of man. Mayberry is not our perfect town because of anything man has done, or because of anything a single resident of this town could do. When we watch the episodes we soon realize that the goodness we seek lies behind the scenes, in the only One who could make each of our lives truly good! The only One who can define good. And the only One who can show us the perfection of its’ meaning!
So as I finish my story, I again pick up my remote. And as I flip through the channels, I see so many filling the screen of my television with theories of failed logic, instead of His truth of proven wisdom. Men and women who try to describe for me the good of this world, without the perfect hand of the One who created this world. A goodness man looks in every direction for but one, “Up”. So once again, I find myself flipping the channels in search of Mayberry.
Praying the true definition of good will fill each of your lives! Even if it means you have to eat a couple of Aunt Bee’s pickles!