Thursday, April 4, 2013

Would You Believe...?

Maxwell Smart, Agent 86,
"drops in" today!
At the height of the 60s spy craze, Mel Brooks and Buck Henry asked the question, "What would happen if James Bond and Inspector Clouseau somehow had a child?" Their answer... Maxwell Smart, Agent 86. For five years on network television, Don Adams played the bungling secret agent who helped America's CONTROL agency thwart the evil intentions of KAOS, whose Bond-like villains tried their best each week to Get Smart.

Get Smart really was a smart, fun show, which appealed to people on multiple levels. Some, no doubt, appreciated the satire of American politics. Others watched for the physical comedy, as Agent 86 fell in and out of trouble every week. And still others probably tuned in just to hear their favorite catch phrases (like "Sorry about that, Chief," and "Missed it by that much!") in Adams' unique voice! The series was cancelled in 1970, but not before winning 7 Emmy awards - 3 of which went to Adams for "Best Continued Performance in a Comedy".

Well, over the next few hours, I'd like to explain how there are no less than 764 life-altering lessons we can learn from watching this TV show. Would you believe it? 764!

No? Would you believe... if I include all the sequels and spin-offs of the show, I can list for you 209 important insights?

Still no? Eh... How about 3?

The first point I want to share was inspired when I recently watched the 1980 movie, The Nude Bomb, which was the first attempt to revive Agent 86 after the series was cancelled. Don Adams was still funny, but unfortunately, the film had some fatal flaws (absence of things like the trick phone booth entrance to CONTROL headquarters, the show's trademark music and other original cast members; plus the addition of more adult/rude humor and cussing), making The Nude Bomb also a box-office bomb. Thankfully, these problems were corrected when Agent 86 returned for 1987's made-for-TV movie, Get Smart Again!, which really felt like a return to the classic show!

But before you write off The Nude Bomb completely, I should say the basic premise was good. In the movie, Agent 86 has to save the world after KAOS terrorists threaten to explode "nude bombs" all over the planet. A "nude bomb", they say, won't destroy structures or people, but will disintegrate the fibers of every known fabric in the world, leaving its human victims... nude.

The idea seems ridiculous, which makes it perfect for the world of Maxwell Smart, but I wonder if audiences today would be on the side of CONTROL or KAOS! In our hyper-sexualized world, I could see many movie-goers rooting for the bad guys!

Then again, I imagine if a "nude bomb" was real, most people would hope someone could prevent it from going off! Ever since the Garden of Eden, there has been a certain sense of shame associated with nakedness. In the literal sense, a lot of people are self-conscious about their appearance. I'm sure that feeling would only be worse if they knew everyone could see everything any time they looked! I also imagine there are some people you really don't want to see naked!

More than that, though, I think the shame of nakedness hints at something deeper. We all have parts we like to keep covered up - feelings, thoughts, things we only want certain people to see, secret sins we don't want anyone to know about - and how would you feel if those things were all suddenly exposed?

Be sure, one day they will be! One day, we will stand before our Judge, and every secret thing will be brought into the light, which is why it's so important to make things right with the Lord today!

"Fear God, and keep his commandments; 
for that is the whole duty of everyone. 
For God will bring every deed into judgement, 
including every secret thing, whether good or evil."
- Ecclesiastes 12:13b-14 (emphasis added)

My second point can be seen not only in The Nude Bomb, but in every extension of the Smart universe, and that is that things (and people) are not always what they seem. Some of the best gags are built around items that look like one thing but are actually another, and it should come as no surprise that many of the best entries in this spy franchise are based on the idea of double agents and masters of disguise.

You and I may not be secret agents, but we also have to be careful of things and people who are not what they appear to be. Sometimes we can make a quick decision because something looks/sounds good, only to discover late that we were very unwise. People also may come to us at times as wolves in sheep's clothing. One wrong turn can often lead to a world of pain, so it's a good idea to think before you act - to proceed always with a certain amount of caution (Proverbs 14:12).

"The wise are cautious and turn away from evil,
but the fool throws off restraint and is careless."
- Proverbs 14:16

"Just a minute. Who is this?"
The most important way to know what is right or wrong, though, is to rely on what God has to say about it (Proverbs 1:7; 14:27). Sometimes, the Bible has some very clear instructions that make the decision easy for us, but I know we often find ourselves living somewhere in the grey area ("Should I go to this school or that one?" "Should I date this person or not?" "Should I take that promotion if it means relocating?"), and it can be hard figure out what the answers are.

But my final point from Get Smart is that, just because you don't find a black and white answer in the Bible, that doesn't mean God won't tell you what your next move should be! Besides his funny voice and great catchphrases, Maxwell Smart is perhaps best remembered for the fact that - long before everyone had cell phones - he had a shoe phone. The shoe phone allowed Smart to be in contact with his Chief no matter where he was (assuming he could dial the right number).

Thinking of this reminds me that you and I have something even better! Remember, you can talk to the Chief any time you need him, but you don't have to wait for a good opportunity to take off your shoe, and you don't have to worry about dialing the right number. You don't even have to speak out loud!

Out loud or in silence, you can pray to God for wisdom whenever you need him, and not only will he take your call, but he promises to answer when you trust him! (James 1:5-8)

"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, 
who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, 
and it will be given you."
- James 1:5

Agent 86 reminds us of the truth in the Scriptures that a Day of Judgment is coming, when all our secrets will be exposed and accounted for, but God wants us to make godly decisions - to use our lives "for niceness instead of meanness" (as Smart might say) - and more than that, God wants to help us to do what's right. He wants us to talk to him - to form a relationship with him - so we can be forgiven for past mistakes and do right from now on!

The only question that really remains is this...

Would you believe?

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Please comment on this post. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Is there something I left out or should have covered? Was something confusing? I want to know what you think!