(Note: Some of the stories related herein were gleaned from the Internet. I cannot vouch for their veracity; however, that should not discount the truth of the lessons such incidents teach.)
Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider sent out ads inviting young men of a certain age to try out for the Monkees. Out of over 400 applicants, only four were selected. In the same way, God calls each and every one of us to share a relationship with Him. Relatively few respond to the call and join God’s chosen ones. "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).
All four had different backgrounds, but together they formed a great group. Micky and Davy weren’t musicians, and Mike and Peter weren’t actors. Nevertheless, they were able to produce a TV show that ran for two seasons, several successful albums, a movie, and a following that has lasted for over 30 years. In the same way, God takes us, regardless of our backgrounds, and uses us to reach people for Him. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
The four guys had different talents and different personalities. Apart, they had a measure of success, but together they were phenomenal. God gives each of us different personalities and different gifts to make the body of Christ more effective (I Corinthians 12, 14). They’d never met before, but they had a chemistry that enabled them to work together well. If that doesn’t show that God has a plan for people’s lives, I don’t know what does. (See Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1:5.)
The guys have gone their separate ways, but they are still The Monkees. In the same way, we may be separated from our church family, but we remain Christians as long as we are faithful to God. This does not mean that we should stop going to church; on the contrary, "let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25). However, we do not have to be at a service in an established church to be able to live a victorious Christian life or to spend time with God.
Peter refused an opportunity to get back with the group to do a McDonald’s commercial because he is a vegetarian. We ought also to stand for our convictions, no matter what the cost. (This does not mean that I condone vegetarianism, just that standing for your beliefs is important.) The old saying is very true: "If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything." "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (I Peter 3:15 KJV).
The guys refused an offer to play at a football game because they knew the fans wouldn’t be able to see them as well as in a concert and would be disappointed. We should always remember that God is watching and try not to disappoint Him. Also remember that other people are watching us, some looking for faults, others looking for an example. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1).
People got really down on The Monkees because they didn’t play their own instruments. Instead of letting it get them down, they learned to play and kept going. When people criticize us for our faults, we should fix the problem and go on. Some people may never let us forget what we did wrong, just as some people still dislike The Monkees because of their prefab origins. Still, we can know that we fixed it and are now on the right track, just as the guys are. We can also prove that we have changed, like the Monkees tried to do with Headquarters and (hopefully) succeeded in doing with Justus.
The group was formed purely as a moneymaker, yet the Monkees produced some really good music and are still very popular. God can take something begun for ill and use it for good. "God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28 NASB). Also consider Joseph’s analysis of his life experiences: "You meant it for evil, but God used it for good" (paraphrase of Genesis 45:5-8).
The guys always found a way out of their problems in the show. It usually took a lot of craziness and some wild plans, but it always worked. In real life, God always provides a way out of our problems, even if that way is through them. "When you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (I Corinthians 10:13; see also Romans 8:28).
Micky once said, "Age only matters if you’re cheese." Christian youth might do well to keep that retort in mind as a very succinct paraphrase of I Timothy 4:12: "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." Remember, David wasn’t even 12 when he slew Goliath (I Samuel 17)! By the same token, older believers, especially seasoned citizens, need to keep in mind that Christians never retire; we serve the Lord until the day we die (or until the Rapture, whichever comes first). See Hebrews 11.
Fans tend to get very excited about the prospect of getting to see any of the Monkees in concert, and rightly so; the guys put on a good show, even in their solo careers. There’s also the added attraction of possibly getting to meet one of the performers. But Christians have an even more exciting prospect to look forward to: one day we will get to see the King of kings face to face and live with Him forever! And our tickets are already reserved. Jesus promised, "In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2-3; see also I Thessalonians 4:16-18). All we have to do is accept Jesus as our Savior. We’ll even get to be in one of the biggest concerts in history (Revelation 5:8-14, 14:3, 15:2-4)!