What is the difference between a sheep and a "loaded" goat?
One of my favorite all time shows is "The Andy Griffith Show." One could say I watched it "religiously." In fact when I was in seminary we actually had a group chartered by the "Andy Griffith Rerun Watcher's Club." We were the "Andy Griffith Theological Society." And I was proudly named "The Head Goober!"
While we laughed hysterically at each episode, we decided it would be fun to develop theological summations with each episode. Then at the end of the school year, we would invite our professors to come and watch an episode with us and test them on their ability to articulate their theological understanding of the episode.
There was an episode where "Jimmy the Goat" got loose from being tied up while his owner was running some errands in Mayberry. He wanders into a storage shed filled with dynamite and proceeds to start eating dynamite sticks. Barney and Andy come upon the shed and a partially eaten stick of dynamite, but Jimmy is gone. Andy says to Barney, "Somewhere in Mayberry wandering loose is a "loaded goat." Andy assures Barney they need to stay calm. Barney seems to concur with that sentiment when a dynamite explosion goes off from a nearby construction site and Barney yells, "There he goes!"
Well, Jimmy wanders into the sheriff's office and is secured in a jail cell. The mayor wants Andy to shoot the goat. Andy agrees, grabs a rifle and hands it to the mayor. Andy reminds the mayor that when he shoots the goat it will fall down and go (as Barney says) "blewey." The mayor decides he is not up to that so he tells Andy he wants the goat out of town immediately.
Like most Andy Griffith Shows it is an epic episode. However, in it, we see what Jesus had in mind in the words from Matthew 25 — Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40 And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'
So, now for your final exam, what would be your summation of the episode in relation these words in Matthew 25? Well, good news. Come to worship this Sunday for the "open book" exam as we continue our sermon series — Be prayerful, Be thoughtful, Be giving. Our focus will be on the "God-initiative."
Oh, and by the way, our theological society's theme song speaks to our focus and can still be found in many hymnals — "Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me...Andy tells me I am his own..."