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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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Who Cares?

Milton Berle reminds us that sometimes when company comes they are more of a pain than a pleasure. He wrote: "My wife's family is coming to visit us, and I'm busy getting ready for them. All week long I've been erasing letters from the welcome mat!" That statement strikes us as humorous because it strikes home. Most of us have dealt with unwanted or at least unexpected people who inconvenience and at times seek to take advantage of us. Twice in Mark's account of the gospel we read of Jesus rolling out the welcome mat to a company of needy people. In Mark 6:34 He miraculously fed 5,000 Jewish men with five loaves and two fish even after the apostles advised to "send them away." (6:36). Later, in Mark 8:2ff Jesus feeds a company of 4,000 by miraculously multiplying "seven loaves .... and a few small  I f ish" (8-5, 7a). How did the Son of God manage to keep the welcome mat rolled out on these two occasions for a combined dinner party of at least 9,000 people?! The key is found in a single word: "compassion." In Mark 6:34 we read that He was "moved with compassion" and in Mark 8:2 Jesus Himself says, "I have compassion on the multitude .... because they have nothing to cat." Nobody can accuse Jesus of being so heavenly minded He was no earthly good. Jesus recognized the truth stated by Francois Rabelais "Hungry bellies have no ears." Jesus is the greatest proof a hurting world has that God cares.

The church of Christ must never forget that Jesus had compassion on the multitudes. He cared for their souls and so He fed them with the bread of Heaven - the word of God. But Jesus also cared about people's bodies and their physical needs, whether the need was food for a hungry stomach or sight for blind eyes or hearing for deaf ears or strength for paralyzed limbs. Those of us who claim to follow Him must do no less. We must constantly remind ourselves the Bible teaches not only the love of truth but also the truth of love. It has always been true that some people who show up asking the church for help are lazy and shiftless and seeking a hand-out and it is true that some of them got themselves in the mess they are in. And it is also true we should exercise wisdom in dealing with peoples' needs and requests. But our primary call from God is not to make sure the church never gets ripped off. Our primary call is always the same - to be the body of Christ in a world filled with spiritual and physical hurt and hunger. As somebody has observed, Christians are people who couldn't care more in a world that couldn't care less. Who cares? Jesus does. And we will, too, if we want to be the authentic people of God.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ