Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are we truly loving one another?

Since the beginning of the year I have been teaching an expositional study through the book of Ruth on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday we examined Ruth’s relentless and untiring devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi. Her poetic words resound with commitment and loyalty:

But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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 I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17)

To experience the flavor of her words, you must remember the context of Ruth. She is a Moabite widow and living in a patricentric society. Unlike our culture where women possess value and worth, Ruth’s culture was a male-dominated society. Women found their identity only within a realm connected to a man. When Ruth decided to take this leap of faith and follow Naomi, she is facing a life of possible rejection. Not only will she be despised by the Jews, but she has rejected her family, people, and religious roots.

Trible aptly writes, ““Ruth stands alone; she possesses nothing. No God has called her; no deity has promised her blessing; no human being has come to her aid. She lives and chooses without a support group and she knows that the fruit of her decision may well be the emptiness of rejection, indeed of death. Consequently, not even Abraham’s leap of faith surpasses this decision of Ruth. And there is more. Not only has Ruth broken with family, country, and faith, but she also has reversed sexual allegiance. A young woman has committed herself to the life of an old woman in a world rather than search for a husband…One female has chosen another female where life depends on men. There is no more radical decision in all the memories of Israel. Phyllis Trible, A Human Comedy, 173.

I wonder how many times you and I have ever been this dedicated to another person. I must admit that I am a fragile person with many scars. Past relationships have taught me lessons about totally trusting and giving myself to another person. I have been bruised and hurt so many times that I refuse to allow anyone to get that close to my heart. I do not mind being transparent, but am I really vulnerable. How often do I really share my heart with another person? Unless you come to this point in your life where you love someone else more than you love yourself, I dare say that you have truly loved.

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