Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ruth

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

An interesting thing about Ruth, according to my supplemental text, The Bible for Blockheads, is that she was dark skinned. Moab is now known as Jordan, and at a glance you can see that Jordanian people are much darker than Jewish people. So the Ruth-Boaz marriage was an interracial one. I wonder why there is never any mention of that detail when the Ruth story is told? It is commonly referred to as the greatest love story of all time. It seems the love between Ruth and Boaz would be even more revered if it were known that not only had they overcome the differences in their class status and the past adversities of their nations, but racial barriers as well.

I’ve always been disconcerted about churches that weren’t integrated. I understand there might be stylistic differences between historically black and white churches and people may have a clear preference about in which style they wish to worship. But I’ve been in churches where I know people of different races would not have been welcomed, even as a brother in Christ. How does one reconcile that, to be a Christian and a racist too?

This issue, to not be a racist, is so important to me that in the last ten years I’ve chosen the church I attend in part based on whether or not it had a diverse congregation. My church today is White, Asian and Black, the latter two representing an impressive percentage of the overall congregation. To me it is a clear sign that the doors are open to everyone who wants to come there to worship.

In retrospect, maybe this is one of the reasons why I became disillusioned with the church years ago. The Southern Baptist church I attended was 100% white and had nothing to do with the nearby church that was 100% black. Our preacher even spoke down about those who attended the Methodist church next door! From the pulpit no less!

An aside: I’ve always admired the Jehovah’s Witnesses for their “anyone who comes” policy. Now there’s an integrated church.

So the story of Ruth teaches me two things: first, God is indeed color blind, and second, the problem I had with the churches of my youth was really an issue I should have taken up with men, not God. It was men who set the pace for the color of the church, not God. How short-sighted of me to separate myself from God because the people in his church were so imperfect! What else was I expecting? My youthful ignorance becomes more apparent to me each day.

So I am admitting I turned away from the church because I could not find a perfect church, instead I always found churches filled with flawed people. I laugh at this indiscretion of mine now as I remember what a good friend told me recently, “If you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it because YOU will certainly mess it up.”

How right my friend is. I am but a sinner, a man of many flaws. But now I am also a Believer and a Follower, and a student of His Word. As my ignorance falls away, so to do I turn away from my sinful ways. And now I also find great comfort in my church, for there I find other flawed men like me who have come together to say thanks and give praise to the One who loves us anyway.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

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