Nothing Beats Everything

Peter Leithart, who I first encountered reading his book Defending Constantine, blogs over at First Things, and I find him by far the most readable of the bloggers there. He had this to say today about the power of God to attract, even when we have nothing to show for ourselves, and I really wish I’d said this myself:

Christians today often think that the church needs to be powerful and well-ordered to attract notice. This is nothing less than unbelief.

Think of Ruth the Moabitess, who attaches herself to Naomi when Naomi has nothing (Ruth 1:15–18). Naomi went out of Israel full — with husband, two sons, everything she needed. While in Moab, she lost everything.

The Lord has made her life bitter. But precisely at that moment, when Naomi has nothing and can produce nothing, when she’s reminding Ruth that she can’t possibly produce another husband — just at that moment of utter emptiness Ruth commits herself to Naomi, and to Israel.

Naomi says, God has dealt harshly with me. He’s emptied me of everything. And Ruth says, I want your God to be my God. Somehow, mysteriously, uncannily, miraculously, Ruth finds something in a woman who has nothing. Somehow, she knows that the God of empty Naomi is a God of salvation.

By attaching herself to the empty widow, Ruth finds a place in the family tree of David and of David’s greater Son. Clinging to the widow with nothing, she becomes an agent for the restoration of everything.

Paul was not thinking only of Jesus and the early church when he said, “God has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). That’s the story of Israel, and the story of the church.

Yeah, this. Every bit of it.