The Next Chapter
"Now these are the descendants of Perez . . ." Ruth 4:18
Christianity didn't begin with us. Faith has a history, worked out through the lives of ordinary people making choices in everyday life. At first what appears to be a boring genealogy of people we've never heard of, is, in fact, the Bible’s way of insisting our lives are connected with the generations of the past. Our life, our faith, is gift with context. We are products of our history, and our history matters.
The reason for this list of names that appears to be tacked on to an otherwise beautiful love story, the reason why Ruth ends where most stories in scripture begin – with genealogy – is to remind us that the story is not finished. There's something more developing. The history of Ruth is the beginning of David. Where we end, God begins.
Our life matters. We are given a glimpse of the inner life of the characters in the story of Ruth. How they lived is significant to the outcome of the story. The book of Ruth shows that the ancestors of King David walked with integrity before God and others in purity and singleness of heart. The future was bound up in Ruth's full confidence in the God of Israel. Her simple faith, work ethic, and care for Naomi, reverberated into the life of David. And Matthew reminds us, into the life of the Lord Jesus Himself.
We do well to remember the New Testament understanding of the church as the historical covenant community and our connection to its history. It would deliver us from over-concentration on individualistic faith, and free us from the lie of autonomous Christianity. The church spans centuries and we are tied to its history. And we are the next chapter of the story.
Our faith, our belief, our decisions, will resonate into the next generation. We are today part of God’s family whose father was Abraham and which welcomed Ruth, the girl from Moab. The God who called Ruth is the God who called us in Christ.
May we, like Ruth and her descendants, pledge our willing and loving obedience in response to God’s gracious invitation to enjoy His presence and take our place in God’s story of redemption.