Welcome at His Table
You and I are called to be bridges that span the gap between the experience of isolation and a life of divine acceptance.
For Ruth, Boaz was that bridge. In the middle of a long workday, Boaz invited his workers to enjoy a meal. He also welcomed Ruth to eat among the established harvesters. It is easy to miss the significance of this. Ruth was a stranger, a foreigner, and a woman. Boaz’s actions were unexpected and culturally counterintuitive. They were Christlike.
Boaz is an example of someone whose actions were the bridge between isolation and the acceptance God offers. As a Moabite, Ruth would have looked and acted differently from those in Bethlehem. Additionally, the widowed status of Ruth and Naomi would have isolated them in many social circles. But because God’s love had filled his heart, Boaz disregarded any hint of prejudice he might have had and welcomed Ruth to his table.
Boaz didn’t stop at making sure Ruth felt comfortable by his actions alone. No, he also made sure the other workers were treating Ruth with acceptance and kindness, and he didn’t leave her to struggle as she learned the skills of her new trade (Ruth 2:15-16). He went above and beyond to provide and care for her.
Do we do the same for unbelievers, new believers, or visitors at our churches? A Christian is by definition a recipient of God’s covenant love. So a Christian ought to be the first one to include the outcast—the first one to say, “You’re welcome here! We’re glad you’re here! Please participate! Will you join me?” We are called to stand against the tide of all-too-common selfish exclusivity and the equally pernicious habit of only spending time with and extending welcome to those who are like us.
We find the bravery required to be a bridge and not a barrier when we look to our own acceptance by God in Christ. Boaz’s inclusion of Ruth—despite her race, social standing, and lack of work experience—points to the eternal story of God’s greatest welcome. The holy God called across the boundaries between Jew and Gentile, enslaved and free, saying to sinners, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!” (Isaiah 45:22). We must turn our gaze afresh to the cross, for there we learn what it means to be loved and welcomed by God. Only then will we be able to truly love and welcome others.
So, look at how God in Christ welcomes you to His table, and then ask yourself: “How is His Spirit prompting me to step over a divide? Who is He calling me to make welcome at my table?”
The Sin of Partiality
1My brothers,1 show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
8If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
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