On the General and the Particular

On the General and the Particular

Posted on:Oct 09 2007
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When attempting to understand God’s direction, one must be cognizant of the general and the particular. It is sometimes frustrating to attempt to understand and outline the general. But it is not nearly as difficult to sense the particular. For the sake of clarity, let me consider this example.

A Christian trying to accomplish the mission of the kingdom can put together a general set of imperatives. Those imperatives are drawn from the instruction and scripture. They may have to do with the “great commission” and its emphasis on “matheteuos” (the discipleship). They might include the core understanding of man’s chief duty, to glorify God, as set down in the creed. One might, along with this process, arrive at a primary set of virtues, etc. In this way, a carefully balanced plan might be developed.

But I have a primary problem with this: I can’t ever get it quite right. I can barely discern the right way to approach the development of myself or any other man. This is complicated by my thirty-year struggle to understand the differences between body, soul, and spirit.

All of this can be thought of as the general approach. The general approach is based on common instruction. It is balanced. It is homiletical.

Now for the particular. The particular is often not balanced. It is not especially homiletical. But I find that it is easier to perceive. It is as if God emphasizes certain changes that deserve my full attention.

Yet, while I find it easier to perceive this emphasis, I find it exceedingly difficult to follow it while ignoring the general. Some strange hard-wiring in my mind makes it very difficult to follow the particular exclusively. It is as if I fear the parts I may be missing. I fear becoming out of balance.

In any event, this is what I am learning: when approaching a new endeavor, consider the general. Try to lay it out. But overlay the general with the particular. And give the particular your primary attention. As the Scripture said, “As many that are lead by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”


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