By Dr. Bascom Ratliff
Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
The inspiration for today’s message comes from Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
This morning I read an article by Victor Nava (August 9, 2023) about an interview with Russell Moore, the editor of Christianity Today, suggesting that partisan tribalism is infecting the evangelical movement and that “a number of self-proclaimed Christians believe the Bible and its teachings are subversive.” These self-proclaimed Christians expressed problems with Jesus’ teachings suggesting that we “turn the other cheek” or “give our cloak to someone who would steal from us.” They considered these “liberal talking points” and suggested that these notions were weak and outdated.
Unfortunately, many in our society believe that the teachings of Jesus are weak and no longer relevant. Turning the other cheek, forgiving those who harm us, and feeding the poor, are no longer seen as valued, important service to a risen Christ. Far too many “Christians” have a warrior mentality. They equate faith with fierce independence and power. Humility and charity are considered weak and feckless.
This disconnect between a humble and loving Christ and the perception of a judgmental, unforgiving God has resulted in many conflicted Christians abandoning their faith. They feel alienated and confused about the mixed messages coming from our religious leaders. They worry about Jesus’ message and whether following him is of any real benefit. They often see God’s leaders and teachers behaving as judgmental and punitive entrepreneurs, who are selling Christianity to modern day political Pharisees.
These false religious brokers completely avoid the Beatitudes found in Matthew. To them, suggesting that there is power in meekness, forgiveness, or mercy, is distasteful and senseless. The real power comes from wielding political might and warring against the modern-day lepers of our society. There is no strength in poverty. There is no strength in charity. There is no strength in humility. Far too many people believe that strength comes to those who have the loudest voices and the largest purses.
Jesus asks us to behave and think differently. With Jesus, real strength comes from a relationship and reliance on God. When we accept that we are sheep in his fold, we are gifted the power of the Holy Spirit. This gift is about gentleness, kindness, and caring for others. And as we focus on the genuine gift of Jesus Christ, we truly do have access to the greatest power in the universe. The power to love. The power to forgive. The power to serve.
If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, please come and worship with us.
We will worship at the Beagle UMC during August 2023.
We will worship at the Fontana UMC during September 2023.
We will worship at the Parker UMC during October 2023.
All services are at 10A.
All are welcome in God’s House.
Dr. Bascom Ratliff (913-710-5748)
United Methodist Churches