Today we have so much data and information available to us, more than we can cope with. So, we simplify, summarise, generalise. This may help make things more manageable for us, but something important gets lost in the process: specificity.
Specific details are important. They add colour, context, and concreteness! Life is not lived in generalities, but in the specifics. To say that we should love one another may be true, but it only really means something when we start to name people. In John13, Jesus told his disciples to love and serve one another, but he actually got down and washed Judas’ feet and Peter’s feet – two specific people who would let him down badly on that last night.
It requires less effort to live in the world of generalisations, where we can wish people well and then just carry on with our normal life. It requires more effort to live in the specific world God has placed us in, where we are called to think hard about the people we know and how we might show genuine love and care for them.
There’s a saying, ‘the devil is in the details’. This may be so, but equally ‘the gospel is in the details’, and it’s in those details that our lives must be lived.