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Chuckling here, but I really appreciate Failing Pastor who is no longer a pastor and no longer failing either, if you ask me. What do I appreciate and value about him? His brutal honesty, the fact that there is someone else in the world who wrestles with more bitterness and cynicism then I do. Cynicism and bitterness mostly around the nature of people and the nature of the church overall.

About five years back at a low point in my life, I found myself at a retreat for codependents, surrounded by pastors and some wives, pastors all far more beat up then I was by the world’s foolishness. Bit of a joke originated there, guys, y’all just need to self identify as a mom and everything you are experiencing will suddenly be normal. Are you completely invisible? Does no one ever listen to you? Do you feel like you’re just shoveling snow in a futile snowstorm??

See, you’re a mom. It all makes sense now.

People make fun of my mom jeans and people make fun of pastor’s skinny jeans. See? We’re practically the same person with the same problem. I call that problem OPS, other people’s, uh “stuff.”

God has such a beautiful synchronicity, such a wonderful way of ministering to you in just the right way. I could have listened to 20 years of careful sermons and I probably have, but it did not begin to touch me quite like hearing some brutal honesty from those guys about disappointment, failed expectations, and the cruelty, the self absorbed nature of others.

I can be pretty stoic, made of teflon, always ‘fine,’ so I sure needed that reminder that love hurts. When you stretch your arms out wide like Jesus did on the cross, odds are good some people will cast lots for your clothes, give you vinegar when you’re thirsty, and stick a spear in your side.

Love hurts.

Jesus had a choice, He could have called forth a legion of angels, but He didn’t. Instead He made Himself vulnerable and opened His arms wide to us, knowing full well it was going to be excruciatingly painful.

Failing pastor sent out a tweet that I really liked because I so need that reminder to focus on what is really important. It said, ”Quit obsessing over the stupidities of this world. And obsess about the Word of God like your eternal soul depended on it.” Amen. We tend to fuss over the latest outrage of the day and forget we are eternal beings.

He and I may diverge a bit at this point, perhaps go down different paths, but soul care is the prime directive of the church. We are the eternal souls Jesus made a tremendous investment in. We are His. We matter to Him as individuals. The stupidities of this world and the scars they have inflicted on us are an important part of our ministry. We heal in community. Our mess becomes the message. We have to love one another in relationship.

That IS the gospel. So many religious people right now are like, ”just preach the gospel,” without even knowing what ‘the gospel’ really is! Matthew 26:13 tells us what the gospel is all about, ‘‘Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Those broken men that day pouring out their pain with their arms wide open preached the gospel to me like Jesus preached it with His life. They were the church. It is not about doctrine, it is not about having the correct theology, it is not a cross referenced sermon with footnotes, it is messy, painful love, perfume, tears, and His blood poured out for us.

If you preach the gospel, they will come.