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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Is It Easy To Be Cold?

You might not expect to learn much worth remembering from a rock band that sang lyrics like, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog, he was a good friend of mine. I never understood a word he said, but I helped him drink his wine." Those lyrics are from the Three Dog Night song, "Joy to the World," ranked by Billboard magazine; as the #1 pop single of 1971. But even long-haired musical poets who sing about drinking wine with bullfrogs can get it right every once and a while! Earlier, in 1969, that same rock-singing band released a song entitled "Easy To Be Hard." The song communicated a message that IS worthy of serious consideration. Hear these jarring words: "How can people be so heartless? How can people be so cruel? Easy to be hard, easy to be cold. How can people have no feelings? How can they ignore their friends? Easy to be proud, easy to say no. Especially people who care about strangers, who care about evil and social injustice. Do you only care about the bleeding crowd? How about a needing friend? I need a friend." Those words are sobering, 44 years after their release. The naked truth is there are people who find it much easier to care about strangers and evil and social injustice at large, and about the bleeding crowd, than they do a single needing friend. Not to mention a needing family. Many men and women, Christians among them, get all lathered up about showing mercy and sending aid to lost and starving people in drought and famine-stricken countries half-way around the globe (and we should help them, as we have opportunity-Galatians 6:9). Meanwhile, in our backyard, are many people who have needs — of the body and also of the heart and soul. Some of them are across town, some across the street, and some are even across the dining room table or on the other side of the bed. Truth be told, we are surrounded by so many spiritually needy and lost people that it is easy to be cold. Relentless demands on our Christian concern and compassion can quickly overdraw our spiritual accounts! We can find it very, very easy to be hard, heartless, unfeeling, and to ignore our friends and family. Caring more about the bleeding crowd far away than the hurting individuals in our own circle of life.

All of this is what makes the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:7 so urgent and relevant. In that verse the Lord reminds us we cannot afford to grow cold and unfeeling toward others — no matter how needy they may be. Listen to the Son of God: "Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy." The Greek word for "mercy" here is eleos. It describes a feeling and conviction stemming from compassion and a desire to cure, help, and relieve what we see of pain in the world — whether the pain is caused by disaster, or sickness and hunger and poverty, or involves people who wrong and treat us unfairly and unjustly. While Jesus walked on earth, He was often "moved with compassion" (Matthew 9:36) and extended mercy ,d help to those who were sick and needy in body or soul. God's Son did not heal all the sick or relieve all the sufferers or feed all the poor in His world. But He never found it easy to be hard or cold. And the cross proves He never found it easy to say no. Jesus was never heartless and cruel or unfeeling toward human suffering and pain. How can we possibly follow Him and find it easy to be cold?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ