I have listened to Mark Driscoll's famous series on Ruth multiple times. Each time I learn so much. For instance, most commentators criticize Naomi....she grew bitter, and everyone knows bitterness is a sin. It is a picture of how we are not supposed to be. But, he sees it differently. She grows bitter and indeed it is a sin, BUT she should be praised in her approach. When she returns to Bethlehem, she announces to her friends, family, community, "I am bitter. I left full, I come back empty." What did she do when she was struggling with this particular sin? She came to God and to His people. She did not try to hide it or fix it on her on. She put herself in Christian community for support encouragement, prayer, a shoulder to cry on, even correction and discipline as she tackled her bitterness. See what I am talking about?? This is cool stuff he uncovers...something I never got from Ruth before!!
Today, on my least favorite day of the year, I listened to it again and this is what I learned this time....
In sermon 3, he talked about was how Boaz was a "r"edeemer (not "R"edeemer). He talked about how God used him as redemption in Ruth's life....the book literally starts with a funeral and ends with a wedding and baby. He came in and played the role of hero to a woman who was destitute. Driscoll makes the point to Christian boys that having a Christian checklist can cause them to miss strong amazing women....expecting almost perfect "Christian from Christian families who have never known pain" women. He makes the point that Boaz married a woman who was dirty, dirt poor gleaming in the fields, a recent Christian convert, widow, not a Virgin, from a Pagan culture known for perversion, who does not have an involved family (her dad was not involved in the whole story), etc.....not who most "Christian Guys" would pick. But she was faithful -- having converted on the road to Bethlehem and literally after being saved for maybe 5 minutes, choosing to follow her bitter mother in law to a Hebrew country (where the likelihood of people liking her due to her Moab background was slim), giving up everything she knew. Thats faith! Then she went to work in the fields to provide for her mother in law-- LOYALTY! And although not the perfect Christian with the perfect Christian background, she was a blessing as a wife because she was strong and had withstood hardship building character and trust through sanctified suffering. Driscoll made the point that why so many men look for the perfect idea of a Christian woman, they might miss out on the strength and character that an "imperfect" redeemed woman could bring to the marriage.
Indeed it is a blessing to grow up in a Christian home with a good life where you can never claim a day where you did not know of the gospel. I was blessed to have that, but I was so encouraged to be reminded that the Lord loves and uses the imperfect-- those who did not grow up Christian, those who have been divorced, or are single moms, widows, had sexual pasts, or maybe, in my case, broken engagements. And I was also encouraged to know that wise godly men love these women too-- that in a way a hurtful past can be a blessing on a marriage....bringing wisdom, strength, character, loyalty, etc. How wonderful to know the Lord redeems even the worst of situations! If he redeemed Ruth, He can redeem the situations of so many women I know! It also encouraged me to challenge myself and my friends not to look for the "perfect Christian" guy with the perfect family, perfect past, but to look for the godly man who the Lord has redeemed.
I encourage everyone to listen to the Ruth series....at Mars Hill Church. These are just two of the things I have learned but the 6 sermons deal with God's hand in suffering, redemption, risk, blessing, etc. Such neat stuff to learn!!