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  • Matters of Faith

A small death

Updated: Jun 10

Matters of Faith

By Dr. Bascom Ratliff

Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches

The inspiration for today’s message is from: 

• Revelation 3: 15-16, “I know your works; you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth.

• "A dog’s life" article in the Linn County Journal (April 2024) by Rogene “Jeannie” McPherson, in which she suggests the importance of practicing justice and mercy.

One of my least favorite critics recently accused me of writing lukewarm and tasteless articles. She also felt my sermons could use a bit of work. Her biggest complaint was that I had been co-opted into a system where everything is acceptable or average. She said my messages did not encourage critical thinking or constructive conflict. They were simply written for the general masses and had no real meat or substance. 

After reading the inspirations for today’s message, my colleague’s criticism made a great deal of sense. I fear that I, like others, often fail to speak my mind because I am afraid of offending someone. Unfortunately, there is a high price to pay for trying to please everyone.

Jesus made it very clear that God demands unfailing loyalty, worship, and commitment. God absolutely opposes our loyalty to other fake gods such as status, money, pride, and politicians. He offers us the gift of unfailing love and bountiful grace. However, I believe that God’s love and grace come with conditions.

So, what are God’s conditions? First, I believe that we are to love God and to love others. Our loving others is simply a reflection of God’s love for us. Second, I believe that we are to provide food, clothing, visits, and water to the needy (see Matthew 25). Third, God expects us to practice justice and mercy. There are, of course, other things that God expects of us such as caring for widows and orphans, being good stewards, and praying. When you get right down to it, God expects his followers to do a great many good things in his name. He wants “hot” Christians – not lukewarm ones.

I titled this article, a small death, because I believe that when we turn a blind eye to injustice or to the needs of our neighbors, we have become lukewarm and veer from following Jesus. When we neglect the needs of our neighbors or fail to show mercy and forgiveness, we have failed in our calling to be righteous and committed servants.

So, our challenge is to take a hard look at our service to God. We must ask ourselves the hard questions about mercy, justice, and forgiveness. Are we fully committed to a risen Christ and a loving God? Do we find ourselves lukewarm or reticent when confronted by others about our beliefs and our Christian service? And maybe most important of all, are we willing to stand up to the tyranny of others in the name of a just and loving God? 

In closing, I wish to thank Ms. McPherson, for her wonderful article and her shedding light on my own lukewarm and passive approach to problems and conflict facing my neighbors in Linn County. I promise to do better.

Read. Pray. Do.


If you want to hear about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and fellowship, please come and worship with us.

We will worship at the Parker United Methodist Church during April 2024.

We will worship at the Beagle UMC during May 2024.

We will worship at the Fontana UMC during June 2024.

All Sunday services are at 10 a.m.

We serve communion on the first Sunday of the month. 

All are welcome to worship in God’s House.  

Note: We are having a fundraiser at the Beagle church on May 3, 2024 from 4 to 6 p.m. Please stop by. We will give a delicious homemade pie to the first five patrons who mention this article.

Dr. Bascom Ratliff  (913-710-5748)

Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana 

United Methodist Churches

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