“May the Lord grant that you may find rest, . . .” Ruth 1:9
Economic pressures continue to widen the chasm between rich and poor. A wide- spread scarcity to live life. Conflict between the races continues to escalate, causing the division of classes to be even more stark. Eventually, discrimination escalates into oppression. There exists a deep religious intolerance towards certain members of society. Specific groups of people were deliberately treated as outsiders because of creed, origin, age, a marital status. While one group of people pointed out the flaws in
another group, some were intentionally kept from entering the house of worship. Sound familiar? It should. These are the conditions in which Ruth was living.
One of the points most often stressed in the book of Ruth, is Ruth is an outsider, a foreigner that seeks and finds refuge “under the wings of the God of Israel.” She is taken as the wife of one of the great men of the city. And the marriage is formally approved by those in authority. The child of the marriage is adopted by Naomi and that child’s grandson will be David the king. The point is hard to miss. The book of Ruth is a plea for inclusion of outsiders in the assembly of Israel.
Ruth’s story stands as a witness to the covenant originating with Abraham and was “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3) Reaffirmed by Isaiah, who saw all nations streaming to “the mountain of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:2-3) Over a thousand years later Paul would proclaim “there can be neither Jew nor Greek.” (Galatians 3:28). Peter would remind Christ-followers that “God is no respecter of persons.” Sometimes this is easier to believe, than it is to live.
Our diversity and unity is the work of God Himself. Everything – everything owes its origin to the God who works all things in all people. What makes us unique is the work of the Spirit. The Spirit is responsible for great diversity. The Spirit is what marks the Christian life. The Spirit above all is what makes a person a child of God. There is a unity in the Spirit which is deeper than our differences.
Do you see others through the Spirit?