Lent Devotional: Ruth 1:1-18
by Jonathan Haefs
Ruth 1:1-18 (click here)
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. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. (ESV).” (Ruth 1:16-18)
This is strange.
We might laughingly agree that a daughter-in-law pledging such love and devotion to her mother-in-law is indeed strange, but this goes deeper than in-law jokes.
In the ancient near-east, a young widow like Ruth would return to the home of her parents in hopes of remarriage. Without marriage and children, her future in this patriarchal culture would be extremely bleak. There were not many occupational options for women, thus, there was a dependence upon their husbands and eventually their sons for provision.
Ruth had neither.
Naomi, her mother-in-law, lovingly asked her to return home for the sake of her future livelihood, but Ruth lovingly refused. Such a refusal was tantamount to embracing a life of poverty and social ostracism, but Ruth was willing to do so for the sake of loving Naomi and refusing to allow her to live out her days alone. Ruth would sacrifice herself in love for a woman the world would see as worthless.
This is cruciform community.
This is a love that mirrors the love of Christ in the cross, who left his Father’s side to rescue us from our sin… sin which ostracized us from our God and threatened to leave us alone forever… sin which made us feel worthless.
But Christ took on our sin, embracing our spiritual poverty as if it were his own… he put our worthlessness to death and brought us spiritual riches beyond anything we could ask or imagine.
Now, as his people, we love as he loved. We sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our brothers and sisters and the world. Our lives have been transformed and become cruciform.
Like Ruth and Naomi, the church is a cruciform community as a witness to the world.