Helping – supporting – being an example

Things in ancient Israel were clear: when a man died, his family came to the aid of the widow. Family was worth a mint. In the Christian sense, Jesus Christ is our family. He is there for us!

Zambezi is an average sized city with a population of about 65,000, and is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider visited the congregation there on 25 June 2017, and brought comfort and hope with him. His sermon about the widow Naomi is not only a helpful story from the Old Testament, but offers practical advice for today’s church. “But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1: 16).

God cares for those who suffer

“Wherever you go …” These are well-known words from the Bible. The context clearly shows that God helps the poor and the suffering, the Chief Apostle said. The two women, Naomi and Ruth, were widows. Their situation was desperate. But, contrary to appearances, God had not forgotten them; He provided for their needs and future. Interesting to note is Naomi’s impressive faithfulness, the Chief Apostle said. “Despite her misfortunes, she did not revolt against the Lord, nor turn to the idols of the foreign country she was living in.”

“Some of us live in very distressing circumstances. From a human point of view we could ask, ‘So where is God?’” In such situations we really we need to have faith in God and trust in Him, the Chief Apostle called on the faithful. Even if we cannot recognise His help at the moment, let us not follow other idols that promise a help of sorts. “God does not forget the faithful. He is our future!” Important principles of faith in turbulent times.

Help from Christ

What is also remarkable in this story is that God did not resort to a miracle to save the two women, but to a man by the name of Boaz. He showed compassion for the two women and provided them with food, paid off Naomi’s debts, and helped Ruth by securing her future. The Chief Apostle said that we should draw inspiration from this: “Let us be full of compassion for the poor and helpless. Let us be tools in the hands of God.” Let us be receptive to impulses from the Holy Spirit. God wants to help our neighbour through us, and this is how He does it.

Finally, the story of Naomi and Ruth is an image for sinful mankind. Jesus Christ redeemed mankind through His sacrifice, saving them from spiritual death. “He provides us with indispensable food for our souls and wants to make us His bride.” Ruth could have found a man closer to her age in order to start a new life. “There are so many ways to make our lives on earth as nice as possible. But we want our souls to be saved, and the only one who can do that is Jesus Christ. That is our priority.”

Being an example for coming generations

This is something we should also teach our children, the Chief Apostle said in conclusion. “Let us think especially of the younger generation. In order to motivate our children to follow the Lord it will not do to promise them a bright future. We also do not want to scare them. So let us try to give them a good example, by being humble, calm, and trusting in God. Let us glorify God in word and deed. And above all, let us be filled with a sincere and true love.”

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Peter Johanning
Zambia, Chief Apostle, Divine service