The other week I had a very nice burger meal with some friends at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. We got a good deal because we redeemed a voucher – and this week I got a follow up email from the company. People rarely want to give you something for nothing – most vouchers or coupons require you to submit some contact details to enable them to contact you in the future. They didn’t just want to pay the price for me to have a good value meal – they want an ongoing relationship with me.
I used this as an opening illustration in the recent sermonette I prepared for preaching training. I went on to tell the story of Ruth and looked at the idea of Boaz being her kinsman-redeemer. Boaz didn’t just pay the price to redeem the land which had belonged to Ruth’s father in law. He also took her as his wife, providing for her and her mother in law Naomi. The same ongoing relationship was God’s plan for Ruth, even though she was an outsider from Moab. Ruth impressed Boaz with her faithful declaration to stay with Naomi, saying she would follow the God of Israel, and she also made a rather forward move, effectively proposing marriage to Boaz.
Some of the sermons I read while preparing the talk used this as their main emphasis – that women should be prepared to make the first move in relationships. While I don’t think it’s wrong for women to make the first move, I’m not sure that men always appreciate it. I guess it’s nicer for anyone to make a move feeling fairly confident that they won’t be turned down. You want to be encouraging without putting on too much pressure. I’m not sure uncovering a guy’s feet and lying down there would be typical today! Or offering to water someone’s camels.
Anyway, I chose to move on to draw parallels with the way Jesus redeemed us, and how he also wants a relationship with us. Partly because the task was to identify an example of Jesus in the Old Testament. I looked at verses which talk about Jesus redeeming us – paying by his blood to allow us to be welcomed fully into God’s family. I said how accepting that Jesus paid the price for us is an important step, but that it doesn’t end there. He wants an ongoing relationship with us as well.
Much as I would like to be making progress out of my single state, I know that my relationship with God is actually more important. I did feel something of a breakthrough when the whole ‘redeem and relationship’ idea came to me while I was praying about the topic. I did not react by phoning all of my friends to tell them what God said in the way I might share my excitement at possible developments with a man. But I was pleased with the way the talk came together and with the positive feedback I received from most of the group. Spending more time reading God’s word and getting to know him better is probably a better use of my time than scanning websites looking for potential men. I doubt I’ll be paying up for full membership of any dating sites any time soon, no matter how many times the sites email me or advertise in my Facebook feed. I’m afraid the relationship they are most interested in is one with my credit card…