Church Write-Up: Humility, Good Heart, Fellowship, Chesed in the Book of Ruth

Here is my Church Write-Up for this week.  I could probably go into more detail, but it is late.

A.  We had a guest preacher at the LCMS church, since our pastor is in Greece.  The preacher’s message was that law does not change people, but knowledge of Christ’s acceptance of us can.  He told a story about when he was a kid, and he and his brother were rough-housing.  They flattened a trashcan, and their mother said, “Wait until your father gets home.”  The father came home, looked at the trashcan, and said, “I’ve done worse.”  The preacher was impressed by his father’s humility, and that stayed with him throughout his life.

A passage that stood out to me in the course of the sermon was Luke 8:15.  This occurs within the Parable of the Sower, and Jesus likens the good ground, where the seed produces fruit, to those who have an honest and good heart.  Honest and good heart?  But are we not all sinners?  The preacher said that meant a heart that is receptive to the Gospel.  I thought of Calvinism: the concept that God makes people’s hearts good, and that is what makes them receptive to the Gospel.

B.  The preacher taught the I John class.  He covered quite a bit of topics.  How the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel honor and exalt one another, and place one another ahead of themselves.  God did not create out of loneliness but out of an outflowing of God’s love.  How the Lutheran Scripture readings often do not match each other in theme, to the preacher’s frustration.  The presence of conservative Wahabi Muslims in chaplaincies.  How the Prodigal Son did not need to repent to be accepted by God.  M. Scott Peck’s analysis of evil in People of the Lie, and how he argued that evil people justify themselves, blame others, and claim God for their back-up.

The preacher also talked about fellowship, since I John 1:7 affirms that, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another.  What is fellowship?  Cookies and coffee?  The preacher defined fellowship in terms of what believers have in common: a life of faith and the Holy Spirit.

I somewhat like a non-social definition of fellowship, as one who struggles to socialize.  I remember a conversation I had with a Catholic.  He said that people at his church may not know each others’ names, but they believe the same thing.  That is what they share.

Looking at the occurrences of koinonia in the New Testament, it seems that the term does sometimes refer to mutual participation, sharing, or having something in common.  But there are also times in which a relational implication appears to be present.  Fellowship with God, for example.  Can that be something other than a relationship with God?

C.  At the “Word of Faith” church, the pastor started a series on Ruth.  Some points that he made:

—-God was faithful to Naomi, even though she was complaining that God dealt bitterly with her (Ruth 1:20).

—-Boaz most likely was not a strapping young man but already had a family of his own.  Still, he assumed the role and responsibility of kinsman redeemer and married Ruth to raise up offspring for his departed relative.

—-Boaz showed Ruth love, even though he lived in a city, Bethlehem, that was wicked.  The pastor referred to the events of Judges 19 to support that.  There, residents of Bethlehem behave like the people of Sodom in Genesis 19, trying to gang-rape guests.

—-David years later would praise God, perhaps because God enabled Ruth to marry Boaz, which enabled David to be born and to play a role in God’s plan.

—-The Book of Judges concludes by saying that there was no king in Israel, so the Israelites each did what was right in his own eyes.  The pastor said that this describes many in the West to a T.  But the Israelites needed a king, and we need a king: King Jesus.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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