Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Moving to Beverly... Hills, That Is

Do you ever get the feeling like you just don't belong here? If so, maybe you're right!

In the 1960s, some of the funniest TV sitcoms fell into what I call the "fish out of water" category. This genre included shows like The Munsters and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and the humor came from the fact that the main character(s) just didn't fit in with the rest of the world. If you've ever felt weird or outcast, these shows are for you. What they remind me, though, is that we as Christians really don't belong here. We're in this world for a short time, but we should always be looking forward to eternity. Like Abraham and his descendants in the Old Testament, we live for a while in these temporary places, but we look forward to our true home in the city built by God (Hebrews 11:9-10; Revelation 21:1-2).

The Beverly Hillbillies
© 1962 Viacom International Inc.
One of my favorite "fish out of water" shows from the '60s is The Beverly Hillbillies, the story of the Clampett family, as they move from their little cabin home in the Appalachian mountains to the high-society world of Beverly Hills after discovering oil on their property. The new billionaires are catapulted from the lowliest of circumstances into a world where - because they are different - they are neither understood nor accepted. Likewise, Jesus told his followers to expect rejection because the world first hated him, and we are different (John 15:18-19). But don't let rejection steal your joy! Instead, be assured of your eternal reward (Matthew 5:10-12).

Not only are the Clampetts misunderstood, but because they aren't used to such high living, there's also a lot they don't understand, and this leads to some of the show's funniest moments. I remember one episode where the Clampetts were confused because these mysterious chimes kept ringing in the house. They could never find out where the music came from because every time they heard the chimes, it turned out someone was waiting at their front door. They had no concept of what a doorbell was!

Granny and Jethro doing laundry at the "cement pond"
Doing laundry at the "cement pond"
In another episode, Granny was upset because there was no well near their mansion, and the only water she could find was in the "cement pond" (swimming pool). Poor Granny had to do the laundry out in the cement pond, and when Ellie Mae wanted to take a bath, Granny had to tote water in from the pond to fill up the barrel for her in the kitchen. The mansion had indoor plumbing, laundry machines, and private bathrooms galore, but to Granny, that was all a mystery! Still, she did what she thought she had to do in order to maintain her standards for cleanliness.

The fact is, the Clampetts would have been happy if they had stayed in the mountains, and they were determined to be get along in Beverly Hills, whether things seemed to work the same or not. I'm reminded of the old saying, "Money can't buy happiness," and the fact that it is better to lay up riches in Heaven by doing the Lord's will for our lives and helping our fellow man than it is to worry about the riches this world can offer (Matthew 6:19-21). I'm also reminded of the apostle Paul, who penned these words:

"I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. 
I have learned the secret of living in every situation, 
whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."
- Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT) 

On the other hand, Granny's ignorance about indoor plumbing forced her to work harder than she really needed. If only she had known how easy it is to turn on a faucet or load a washing machine, she could have saved herself hours of strenuous work! I wonder how many people today are like Granny, working harder than they need, thinking all the weight has to be on their own shoulders. 

Some are working hard for their salvation, thinking maybe if they do enough good works, they'll go to Heaven when they die, but they don't realize that salvation can never be earned. Instead, it's offered as a free gift to those who place their trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, 
and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - 
not the result of works, so that no one may boast."
- Ephesians 2:8-9 

Others may have accepted Christ - receiving the riches of his glory - but they continue to live in ignorance of the power they have received. They continue to live in sin, not realizing that God gives us power to overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). They try to fight through trials and temptations with their own will power instead of submitting to the Lord and letting him help (Hebrews 2:18). They worry themselves to death instead of taking their problems to God, who would give them peace (Philippians 4:6-7). They act as if they are in this fight alone, not realizing that the Holy Spirit of God - with all his power - lives inside every believer (John 14:16-20, 23). 

If you feel like a fish out of water today, ask yourself why. If you need a place to belong, God is always waiting with open arms to welcome you into his family. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, 
so that everyone who believes in him may not perish 
but may have eternal life."
- John 3:16

"But to all who received him, who believed in his name, 
he gave power to become children of God, 
who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh 
or of the will of man, but of God."
- John 1:12  

And if you already belong to the family of God, but still feel out of place in this world, don't worry. This world is not your home! You're just a pilgrim - a wayfaring stranger - passing through. But you are not alone. Besides your brothers and sisters in Christ who are making the same journey, you can rest in the assurance that Jesus is walking each step of the way with you, and he'll give you the strength to face whatever comes your way if you'll only trust him!

Well, now it's time to say good-bye... You're all invited back next time...

© 1962 Viacom International Inc.

Y'all come back now, you hear?

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