Wednesday, July 4, 2012


The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry, NC
Copyright Paramount Pictures

Doing the Right Thing

“A ship’s compass will enable it to steer in the right direction
by always knowing True North”

The folksy Southern manner of North Carolina’s favorite son, Andy Griffith, was silenced with his passing on Independence week 2012. Andy Griffith got his big break in 1953 in Greensboro when he spoke to a life insurance convention and related a comic tale about “What it was, was Football”. Capitol Records soon sold 600,000 copies of the comic account--and the rest is an American success story.

The Andy Griffith Show from the 1960’s has been immortalized in endless television reruns centered around the make-believe town of Mayberry. One article from the New York Times neatly summarized the Andy Griffith Show’s “simple but appealing formula: characters would confront a problem, then resolve it by exercising honesty or another virtue”. The local Greensboro News and Record observed that “The show was not a caricature of Southern life so much as a tribute to it. Mayberry’s residents were sometimes petty, envious, greedy or arrogant, but they almost always came around to doing the right thing”.

In Micah 6:8, the bold prophet answered a question many people wonder about today: What does the Lord expect of us? Micah’s answer has been defined as the Old Testament in one verse: God calls us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Him. The first of these three expectations requires us to do what is right, regardless of the consequences. We find an example of such courageous obedience illustrated for us in the lives of the first-century apostles. According to church legend, all but John died horrendous deaths by doing the right thing and proclaiming their faith in the teachings and the resurrection of the Son of God.

It’s also been said that the New Testament can be summarized in the short response Jesus gave to the Pharisees who were challenging his wisdom and authority. They asked him which was the greatest commandment in the law and by that time they had added hundreds of them to their religion. Jesus basically answered in Matthew 22:40 that we should love God and love others.

And one of the greatest challenges of living in a postmodern world that shuns absolute truth and creates a blurred line between right and wrong is to discern and then choose to do the right thing. The failure of leadership in the Penn State Sandusky scandal now joins similar ones in the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America. Sadly, when faced with the choice of doing the right thing for the abused children, the leadership of these institutions chose to do the self-serving thing.

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