“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.” (Ruth 1:16-17) The confessions of all genuine converts involve the reality that the journey to God came with a wild gamble. That is, unless God’s promises are true, then we are “sunk.”
In some ways, Ruth exemplifies for me the greatest faith any human being can have. I know that Abraham is the father of faith, because he left Ur of the Chaldeans to journey to a land of promise. God had told Abraham that He would make him into a great nation, and that through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. What awaited him was an everlasting destiny. So he went and gambled everything on the promises of God. That is what faith is.
But Ruth? Well, she had no visitation from God, no extraordinary promise; what she had was probably the tiniest piece of evidence that the God of Israel would shelter her under His wings. And on the basis of so little, she commits herself to Him.
I want to say her faith was greater – even than that of Abraham!
There is a greater principle we can learn from her story. You see, for those who value family and security over the call of God, these things become huge insurmountable barriers to faith. Jesus put it quite bluntly: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
Now the word “hate” must be understood in its context. Whatever stands between you and Christ must be despised, in the sense that it cannot be valued over Him. The fact is, many people never respond to the gospel because they don’t want interruptions in their life. Everything is planned. And in this way, things like control, security and safety become idols that our souls simply will not release.
I used to pastor a church that had many immigrants. I have heard many stories in which a Christian conversion meant the new convert would be thrown out of their family, and in a few cases, the person actually had a contract out for them demanding their death sentence. The cost of following Christ was real for them.
Whatever the loss may be, all true followers of Christ must abandon the idols that were once a part of our lives, to turn from that which we once worshipped and could not live without, to serving the true and living God.
In the case of Ruth, the cost of becoming a convert to the God of Israel was just as demanding. By binding herself to her motherin-law, Naomi, she was taking the greatest risk and ultimately putting her destiny into the hands of God. She sacrificed all to follow Him.
Today, have you counted the cost of following Jesus?
APPLICATION: Reflect on what God’s promise is to us (see Romans 8:35-39). He will never let go of our hand, but let us make this our promise to God: “Regardless of what comes, I will press into you. Regardless of the hardship or the ease in which I find the Christian life, in the midst of sorrow, loss, pain and an uncertain future, I have burned my bridges and I stand with Christ. I am yours for all time. So shall it be, Lord Jesus. May the Lord Jesus do so to me and more also if anything but death separates me from you.”
ALL TRUE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST MUST ABANDON THE IDOLS THAT WERE ONCE A PART OF OUR LIVES, TO SERVE THE TRUE AND LIVING GOD.
Dr. John Neufeld
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