Right now we are in the midst of a series called "Patterns for Living With God." It centres around several Old Testament characters worth knowing. The first story was Gideon -- sorry, no blog post for that. This week is Ruth, and there are some great story lines.
Ruth is a fine example of love and commitment and makes a great movie. In our culture we value individualism, but Ruth demonstrates a desire to benefit and honour the family, at her own expense. We tend to promote self actualization, but she models self-sacrifice. While North America celebres diversity and freedom, Ruth lives under a commitment to follow Naomi's God and live accordingly -- limiting her own choices and self determination.
Ruth's love and commitment is noted in the community and she is regarded as a worthy woman. Not only so, but she attracts the attention of an older man, and has a child with the full knowledge that the baby really belongs to the line of Naomi. Quite a story of being a bridge builder, or redeemer, of a bitter life into one of joy. A story of hope in the midst of despair. And we honour her for it.
In order to fully understand why she does what she does, we must understand some aspects of the culture and their relationship with God. About 1,000 years earlier, Abraham was given a promise. The man had no child, no land, no purpose, and no legacy. God not only gives him all these things (Genesis 12-17) but also includes a promise that having land, an heir, and a legacy are signs of God's faithfulness.
Now Naomi has none of these things and believes God has let her down big time -- even kicked her out of the covenant. Life could not get worse, and she's frustrated. In to this dark time steps Ruth. Through her commitment Naomi has an heir, the land and family name are preserved, and the legacy becomes far bigger than anyone imagined. After all, King David is born of this line!
So much more could be said about the story, but my question for us is this: Will we love the people of the world so much that we self-sacrifce and build bridges so they can be redeemed? Will we consider the spiritual needs of those around us to be significant enough that their well-being overrides my own?
Read Romans 1:14-16 and Ephesians 1:1-14. It speaks of our inheritance in Christ and the need to include others.