Don’t get specific with me.

What makes the gospel offensive is sometimes not its message but its specificity. We aren’t bothered by generalities about spirituality, but we bristle at specifics about our own lives. Some of us love old-fashioned preachers who rail against sin, as long as it isn’t our own sin.

I’ve been thinking about what people said about Jesus in his hometown, in Mark 6:3: “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him.”

What he said amazed them, but the fact that they knew him offended them. Not the truth of his message.

Is God merciful if he doesn’t care any specifics? Is grace equivalent to apathy? We can co-exist with God as long as God keeps his distance. But when he decided not to – and still decides not to -that’s another story.

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