Why your past doesn’t matter in the context of salvation

Ruth 1-2


Don’t feel bad.

Last night, I watched a brilliant film called 12 Angry Men. If you’re unfamiliar with the flick, it is entirely based on a jury’s decision on whether or not to send an 18 year old man to the electric chair for murder. The film begins with the men having a general consensus that it should be an open-and-shut decision, but one of the jurors decides to vote not guilty, and this juror gradually convinces the others, one by one, that there is indeed reasonable doubt.

One of the first arguments in the deliberation has to do with the defendant’s background.  The kid being accused of murder was raised in a slum, had a brief history of criminal behavior, and spent the majority of his life in an abusive relationship with his father. The juror emphasizes that the guy should get a chance, not get executed because of prejudice or what he describes as circumstantial evidence.

Much longer ago, a woman named Naomi has two sons who get married to foreign woman.  Her husband dies, along with both of her son-in-laws, leaving her desperate for help and forcing her to head back to Jerusalem. This is not a movie — this was real life.

Naomi insists that both women take off to find new husbands; one obliges, but the other (Ruth) insists on sticking it out and hanging with Naomi. Ruth shows great compassion for her destitute mother-in-law, despite the cultural animosity between Israel and Moab.

Despite the ravaged state of their lives, both Naomi and Ruth are socially redeemed by an encounter with Boaz, who happens to be a relative of Naomi and a suitor for Ruth. The significance runs much deeper than a reputation renewal: Boaz is a type of Jesus, sweeping up and restoring the broken.

Let’s keep this simple:

What would’ve happened if Juror #8 didn’t speak up for the 18 year old man? Certainly the defendant would’ve been sent to his death without a chance to pull himself out of the slums and make a life for himself. He was redeemed by one man.

What would’ve happened if Ruth hadn’t prevailed with Naomi, and if Naomi hadn’t relented to have Ruth accompany her? Boaz wouldn’t have come into the picture, Naomi would have been left without a family, and Ruth would have lived a life of scorn and ridicule. They were redeemed by one man

Likewise, Jesus’ relented to die so that man might be redeemed.  The Lord did this, understanding the destitute and desperate condition of man, as a furious act of love.  Yet this requires man (you) to depend on this redemption. While you sit in the defendant’s chair, guilty of all charges, and in a foreign land bearing the filth of your past, a Redeemer awaits your acceptance of this acquittal. Only one man, Jesus Christ, is capable of making this happen.

The message is two-fold: do not be burdened by what you’ve done, where you’ve been, and what you’ve experienced. Especially if you’re a Christian, this no longer defines who you are right now. But further, there is a Savior, a constant source of renewal, that is looking to make your life new.  This might be your call to be refreshed, redeemed, and saved forever.

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