December 9, 2009

the scandal of the particular

If she isn't famous for it yet, I hope to make Diana Butler Bass famous for asking, "how can we implement one size fits all programs in a world where there are 82,000 ways to order a cup of coffee at Starbucks?"

The beauty of this question is that it is deeply, deeply biblical. John the Baptist preached up and down the Jordan River and he baptized, according to Mark's account "all the people of Jerusalem." He ran into people of all sorts; Pharisees, Sadducees, Moms, Dads, Widows, Orphans, Kids, Adults, Tax Collectors, Soliders and preached his one sized fits all message of repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins to them all.

But to the individual he also made it particular. His word of exhortation was not limited to "Be Baptized" but as the Holy Spirit worked in the heart of people, John spoke the truth they needed to hear. He named the sin they had to hand over.

Those who have two coats - give one away.
Those who have food - share it.
Tax Collectors - do your job and take no more than is prescribed
Soldiers - do your job and don't extort or threaten people

See the scandal of the gospel is that the good news is available to you. Jesus died for all humanity, sure, but he also died for you and wants you to change your ways and follow him.

I'm not sure if coffee existed in 1st century Palestine, and I know there couldn't have been 82,000 permutations for it, but even then the gospel was not one-size fits all. It was the good news of repentance for individuals who would, motivated by grace, come together to create the Church, which would, motivated by grace, one day come together to offer again the good news that God cares about you.

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