The story of Ruth, introduced to us in this week’s Old Testament reading, is very sad. Naomi, a woman of Judah, left her homeland with her husband and two sons. The husband died. The two sons married women from a foreign land, then they also died. There was a famine, making life very difficult. Naomi, not wishing to burden her daughters-in-law with any claims she might have on her, sends them back to their homes, where they may be able to marry well.
Ruth, one of the daughters-in-law, declares that she will not return to her former life and her gods. She will remain with Naomi. She is ready to adopt Naomi’s people, Naomi’s God, and all the fortunes or troubles that Naomi might have.
What is the determination of Jesus’ people? Christians confess that they have left a former life, along with the gods of this world, to follow Jesus. Will we walk with him, regardless of the difficulties, regardless of the inconvenience, regardless of the cost to us? This is what Jesus calls his followers to do. We are to lay down our lives, as he has laid down his life for us.
If we read on through the rest of the book of Ruth, we see that God preserves his people through Ruth, continuing the line of the Messiah, who came to be God’s blessing to all nations. Jesus’ lineage, including the Moabite woman Ruth, shows that God’s kingdom includes people from all different nations. In him all believers are one family. Thanks be to God who has brought life and joy from desperate circumstances.
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