But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”Ruth 1:16
We are all born with the natural inclination to be selfish. Some argue that it is part of our built-in desire to survive.
Actually, it is evidence of the original sin that we are all conceived and born with. The sin of pride. Or to put it another way, the sin of “looking out for me” to the exclusion of others.
Today’s culture shows this original sin in the attitude expressed this way: “I want what I want and I’ll do what I have to do to get it.”
This is a very selfish way to live. And that’s a bad thing.
But there is hope.
Love Has a Way of Changing All That
When I first fell in love, I wanted to do everything for the woman I love. For the most part I thought of her first and foremost and not myself.
I still feel this way over 30 years later!
I want to do things for my wife. Things I used to do for her when it was still possible: warm up her towel in the dryer while she’s showering. Warm up her blanket in the dryer before bedtime.
Today, I make the bed nearly every morning. I strip and clean the sheets nearly every Friday for “clean sheet night.”
But the world takes notice and tells us lies when we do things for other people.
The Tactic of the Enemy
I believe this is the basis for the attitude of the “guys’/girls’ night out.” The lie that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is actually the lie that we don’t need to be together all the time. That a little “me time” is necessary.
But this is a tactic of the Enemy (Satan). To divide us and then pick us off one by one. It works in destroying a marriage.
It works in destroying a church.
God to the Rescue!
God loves us so much that He works to rescue us from these lies and attacks. He sent Jesus to “bind up the broken hearted.” His salvation brings us all together again – in relationship with Him and in relationship with each other.
There is a story in the Old Testament that exemplifies this.
The Story of Ruth
Ruth married a foreigner. She was from Moab. But she married a Jew from Bethlehem. Her husband died, along with her brother-in-law and father-in-law.
Left with just her mother-in-law, Naomi, and no children, she had a decision to make. Stay in Moab, find another husband, and live out the rest of her life. Or, she could go back to Bethlehem, remain a widow and live with her mother-in-law.
She chose to go back to Bethlehem because of her love for Naomi. But not just Naomi. Ruth had also come to faith in God. The faith of Naomi had been a strong influence on putting her faith in God.
Yet, He wasn’t her God. Not just Naomi’s God. He was their God. Ruth and Naomi’s relationship was based on their mutual faith in God!
Jesus Brings Us All Together
This still happens today. Jesus brings us all together by removing the very thing that divides us – our sin! His shed blood on the cross washes all our sins away.
His resurrection from the grave opens heaven to us all. When we die, we have the promise that we will also rise from the grave one day to be together with Jesus and all other believers in heaven.
In the meantime, Jesus calls us all together to live in this life. To love in this life. To serve in this life.
As the Church!
And Satan hates this!
Satan Will Come After You
Satan hates everything that God loves. Including calling us all together in mutual faith and love. And so he lies to each one of us to try to divide us yet again.
“You don’t need to go to church,” he lies to us.
“You don’t need to belong to a church,” which is another subtle dividing tactic. He continues that lie with, “After all, you don’t want go to that church where he is a pastor, or she is a member!”
The truth is the only way to battle and conquer these lies of Satan.
Here’s the truth – there is only one God. Only one God for the entire world! And He loves you with an unconditional love! In that love God calls you to be a part of a world-wide family – the one, holy, Christian and Apostolic Church (taken from the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed).
This can be controversial. The world will tell you that it is arrogant to believe that your God is the only God. My answer is that it isn’t about “your” God or “my” God but rather our God!
It really is that simple. There is one God and He loves and saves us all!
And now it is time to make history! Ruth went back to Bethlehem with Naomi and became a part of God’s salvation history. One seemingly little decision – to follow the woman and the God she loved – led to the eventual birth of the Savior of all!
You and I can be part of the same history. By going out into our communities and telling others about this very same Savior. Our Savior. Our God.
Heavenly Father, speak Your truth to me. The world lies to me. Satan attacks me. They do not want me near You or Your Church. Give me Your Holy Spirit that I may gather together for strength with brothers and sisters in Jesus. Give me also the strength to tell others about You, our God! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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