Today we examine the little book of Ruth. The most famous verses of Ruth, as translated in the King James Version have often been sung at weddings:
Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:
For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge:
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If ought but death part thee and me.
The Song Of Ruth is surely beautiful. A young woman named Ruth shows us what love is without ever using the word itself.
But those who have read the four short chapters of Ruth might wonder why these verses are so popular at weddings – given the fact that the words were not spoken by a woman to a man, or by a man to a woman, but by a daughter-in-law to a mother-in-law. Perhaps this is the very point, that there is a higher form of love that needs to be held up to two people who promise themselves to each other for life.
The Bible does indeed speak of the love of physical attraction. This is sacred and beautiful within marriage between one man and one woman.
The Bible also speaks highly of the love of friendly affection. It helps if two people entering marriage actually like each other enough to hang wall paper together, or to put together a swing-set according to incomprehensible directions, or to take a turn with a colicky baby at 3 a.m.
But the Bible also has a word for a higher kind of love. Jesus used this word when He told Nicodemus that “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” St. Paul uses this word in his famous “faith, hope and love” chapter in 1 Corinthians, and when he says in Romans that “God shows His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” St. John uses this word in his first epistle, saying: “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” He then hitches the wagon of our love for each other to the powerful engine of His love for us, saying: “Dear friends, if God loved us so much, we also should love one another.”
This is a love that soars far beyond sex or sentiment, beyond physical attraction and friendly affection. This is a love that echoes and reflects the love Christ has for us poor sinners, a love that does not depend on the attitude of the person receiving it, a love of sacrifice, service, surrender and selflessness. You and I have been on the receiving end of this love, signed with the blood of God the Son Himself. In our marriages, in our friendships, in our fellowship as believers, in our quest for the lost, this love of Christ will forever transfigure our own.