Monday, September 1, 2008

Your People, My People

Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you…. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

                        Ruth 1.16

Someone to Know

We remember Ruth as a sort of Biblical Cinderella. But she’s someone GLBT believers should know. Born and raised in Moab, Ruth married the son of Naomi, a Jewish widow there to escape famine. Ten years later, he died. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, urging Ruth to stay in Moab but she pleaded to join Naomi.

Let’s stop for a closer look at Ruth’s situation. In Moab, Naomi and her sons were outsiders who relied on the Moabites’ hospitality—and overlooked their paganism—to survive. Given this, Ruth’s acceptance wasn’t an issue. But once she moved to Bethlehem, she would be an outcast, viewed as unacceptable and beneath the local tribe of Judah, the Hebrews’ blueblood class.

The Double Door

We understand how the double door works. One side swings into our Moab, where we welcome everyone and our right to be ourselves is never questioned. The door to Bethlehem isn’t as free. Those who love us may hesitate to invite us in—as Naomi did—out of concern for our comfort. They know potential discrimination exists beyond the door. Ruth knew it, too. Yet there’s no finer example of an outsider turning obstacles into opportunities. She flipped the perspective and entered Bethlehem ready to love others like she wanted to be loved, prepared to forsake Moabite traditions and embrace Naomi's faith.

Seeds of Greatness

Ruth walked humbly yet bravely at first. She went to fields belonging Naomi’s relative, Boaz. She followed his servants, gleaning morsels they missed. Boaz soon noticed and asked about her. Learning Ruth was family, he instructed his men to leave more for her. But his obligations surpassed providing for her nourishment. As her kinsman, Boaz was required by law to redeem Ruth—to marry her and secure her standing as a member of Judah’s tribe. And wait; there’s more. She and Boaz began a lineage that included King David and another Bethlehem couple whose Son was called the King of kings.

We have much to learn from Ruth. As we venture into new places—particularly communities of faith—we offset rejection with acceptance. “Your people” become “my people.” We find work that nourishes us. We know our Redeemer is responsible for our standing and security. And we wait patiently to see our story end. God doesn’t call us to live as foreigners. He put seeds of greatness in each of us, a destiny we must fulfill. Our task is getting to Bethlehem. What happens with us—and in us—once we’re there is His business.

As Ruth looked toward Bethlehem with Naomi, she couldn't possibly imagine the road would lead to such an extraordinary destiny.

Personal Postscript: My Kind of People

As I’ve mentioned to several, when I first launched “Straight-Friendly,” I prayed for guidance for what I could do to bring people to it.  I never anticipated how many bright, committed, kindred spirits it would bring to me.  In just two months, my life has become a treasure trove of new friends and allies in the faith.

One of them is Missy, a terrific--apparently indefatigable--wife, mother, friend, believer, and overall go-getter. She's my kind of people: totally canny and curious about all sorts of things, yet driven by faith and compassion. In the parallel universe of cyberspace (which often strikes me as a primo cocktail party), Missy is the sort of person you want to hang out with

Her blog is a virtual buffet for anyone with insatiable, eclectic tastes. It runs the entire gamut, from soul-searching observations about Christian ethics and practices to pop culture enigmas to favorite recipes. (How she finds time to bake, I'll never know.) Take a gander; she's someone you should know.

Missy's Big Fish Stories

(Tomorrow: The Closer)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tim--
And a big mwa-mwa!