Sheriff Taylor then proceeds to explain to Mr. Silby that as far as he and the rest of the sleepy little town of Mayberry are concerned, Tom has long been dead. It seems that his wife, Annabelle, had told everyone that he had been hit by a taxi in Charlottesville. Tom soon reveals that he hadn’t been killed at all, but had simply gotten enough of Anabelle's nagging and had left her.
It becomes clear that rather than admit she had lost her husband, Anabelle had pretended that he had been killed and proceeded to have a funeral for him. After visiting his grave, Sheriff Taylor passionately convinces Tom Silby to go home and patch things up with Anabelle.
I share this because being considered dead while still alive is actually a little more common than many of us, at least here in the western world, may realize. Let me explain.
This week is being devoted to the annual emphasis on International Missions by the 47,000 or so churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. At our own church, we had a man who had been raised in Kenya as the son of Missionaries to share a few of his memories.
As a part of his presentation, he shared that in that part of the world, it is not uncommon for individuals who embrace Jesus Christ to be written off as dead by their own unbelieving families. In many cases, these families will carry out an actual funeral and burial for the any family member who has converted to Christianity, counting this individual as dead.
The young man shared that he had actually been taken to graves by believers who showed him where they had supposedly been buried by their unbelieving families.
I share this simply to remind us that it can be a costly thing to become a follower of Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus Himself said (in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, verses 24-27):
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
Even more to the point, He also said (in Matthew, chapter ten, verses 35-39):
35For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - 36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
I trust those of us here in the western world will never forget the tremendous price that so many other believers pay to have eternal life through Jesus Christ. I also trust that, if upon closer examination, we ourselves find that our faith is not costing us anything, that we might be prodded to ask ourselves why this is.
What has it cost you to be a follower of Jesus Christ? After all, I remind you that it was Jesus Himself Who gave up His own home in Heaven with His place next to His own Heavenly Father in order to come into this world and to give up His own life so that we are who were dead may in fact have life!
SOURCES: I have written many times before (12/16/2013, 09/03/2015, etc…) of my affinity for all things Mayberry. I am referring here in this blog post to Season 1, Episode 8. See http://mayberry.wikia.com/wiki/Opie%27s_Charity.
Our speaker, Kenny Duncan, has written a book about his experiences growing up in Kenya as the son of Missionaries. It is titled “Now I Can See” and is available for digital download through Apple iBooks.
SCRIPTURE SOURCES: Found at http://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/16.htm and http://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/10.htm.