The Whatever God

Sunday, _______s Senior Pastor started a 4-part series on the book of Ruth, challenging us to read through the book several times over the course of the series.  As I read through the 1st chapter, I caught for the 1st time a new facet of the story in verse 16:

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

What I noticed for the first time is Ruth’s embracing of a foreign God, a foreign people, and a foreign culture sight unseen.  She’d never attended synagogue or celebrated any of the feasts or experienced tabernacle worship.  She didn’t do a side-by-side comparison of Yaweh and Chemosh and come to the conclusion that Yaweh was true and Chemosh false.  No one gave her a Chick tract about how imminent divine judgement was.

I don’t get the idea that Ruth really cared about which god was the right one.  She cared about which god was Naomi’s.  The sense I get when I read this is that Ruth would happily worship Baal, Chemosh, Yaweh, Buddah, or whatever, just so long as she could be with Naomi. 

Ruth chose the Whatever God, the Wherever Place, and the However Plan.  Yaweh, Israel, and Judaism didn’t impress her nearly so much as Naomi.  And I think more people are like Ruth than we want to believe.

The contrast to how we operate today is striking.  When we talk with people who don’t worship our God, we are too often reduced to trying to convince people of the abstract, absolute truth of our God and our way in spite of the way God’s followers behave.  The argument runs like this:  “Choose God because God is truth and that truth is more real than your experiences of Christians.”

It’s time we got real about why our neighbors don’t go to church or read their bibles or vote Republican.  It’s not that they have an argument with the truth of God and Christ.  It’s that they don’t particularly want to be like or with Christians.  Us.  The overriding question they are asking is not “Is this true?”  They’re asking, “Do I want to be like them?”

Naomi was the kind of person that Ruth wanted to be with, even if it meant worshiping a strange God in a strange land.  What if being a disciple meant becoming a Naomi?  What if being a disciple meant becoming someone people would want to be around, even if it meant worshiping a new God? 


1 Response to “The Whatever God”

  1. 1 neiladams July 8, 2007 at 1:00 am

    You are absolutely right. Research shows that 70-90 percent of people come to Christ and church because of a friend or relative. Good work.

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