Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We're All Outsiders

God again uses a lower story famine to work out God's upper story.

In the lower story, the decision the family makes to move out of Israel is a mistake, because it places them in the context of pagan worship.  But in the upper story, we will see that God is going to do something through this poor decision...

Everything works out for Ruth and Naomi in the lower story, but there is an upper story going on at the same time.  God is working out God's plan, not only to get Ruth and Naomi back, but to get everyone back, to provide a way. 

There will be one born who will provide the way.  The Lamb of God, the deliverer, the redeemer.  All these Old Testament stories point to that one person.  We are told he would be born out of Israel, out of Judah, in Bethlehem.  Do you see where this is going? 

Ruth and Boaz give birth to a son named Obed, who gives birth to a son named Jesse, who gives birth to a son named David, King David.  The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 says he comes from the line of David, the tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.  We were slaves to sin, we were outsiders, we lost our inheritance in Adam, then Jesus redeemed us with the price of his life.  Just like Ruth became the bride of Boaz, so we become the bride of Christ and we can say, "I am accepted" and "I know where I'm going."  God uses outsiders in the unfolding of God's grand plan to redeem everyone.

Not only did God go out of his way to include a Moabite woman in the lineage of Jesus, God used Boaz's mother, Rahab.  When Boaz took Ruth in, he knew what it was like to be an outsider from his lower story life as the son of a prostitute.  He also knew what it was like to be accepted, not only by the Israelites, but by the God of the Israelites.

Application for this week:

There are a lot of lonely people in our community today who feel like outsiders.  They want to feel accepted, they want to know where they're going but they are outsiders and feel like they have no hope.  God calls us to be agents of acceptance on God's behalf.

God is calling every one of us to be a Boaz to somebody.  Here are some ideas for how we can be agents of acceptance in someone's life:
* Take time to talk to a child at their level.
* Volunteer at a halfway house as a mentor.
* Volunteer in our children's or youth ministry.
* Mentor a teen.
* Go on a short-term mission trip.
* Do chores or a project for a single mom.
* Invite a single parent family over for some relaxation or even on a vacation.
* Speak encouragement to a person who is struggling.
* Invite a widow over for dinner.
* Have your family or your life group go to a nursing home and visit those who are alone and celebrate the special days in their life.
* Sit with a kid in school who is new or alone in the lunchroom.

What's the point here?  There's 2, actually...

1) Align your life to the upper story of God, even when it means surrender and sacrifice, to extend acceptance to someone in hopes that God will use you to bless them.
2)  God could have chosen anyone to use, and God chose some messed up outsiders.  Think you're not good enough to be accepted by God?  Think you're not good enough to be used by God?  Ask Ruth and Rahab and think again...

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