Still Looking for a Gospel That Speaks to Failure


Another friend lost his job last week. He spent the last nine years in the housing biz, and we all know where that has gone. These are tough times, aren’t they?

When I think of the difficult lessons I have learned in life, whether through my own experiences or those of people I know, many of them revolve around our work lives:

The business world never forgives mistakes—ever.

It’s always about the bottom line, and almost never about the employees. (The sign of a soulless company? Its leaders refer to employees as “human capital.”)

If a man makes a bad career decision at age 18, it will more than likely haunt him for the rest of his life.

In the same way, if a man feels a call to ministry in his young adulthood, he will be hard pressed later in life if he fails in that ministry and must find his way in the regular work world.

If a man is trying to transition out of one field into another, more than ever he will find it impossible because employers can’t seem to break out of the niche mindset. In other words, once a bricklayer, always a bricklayer, and never a computer technician.

Men who lose their jobs at the most vulnerable point in their peak earning years are more likely than ever before to find themselves unable to return to the same level of pay.

Reaching for the brass ring may instead find one falling off the carousel.

This is not to say that God can’t do miracles. But the simple fact is that you don’t go to bed a video store clerk and wake up the next day as the lead on the Large Hadron Collider. And the even simpler fact is sometimes all the hard work in the world will not get you there, either.

And that’s why, especially at this time, we need a Gospel that speaks to failure.

A couple years ago at this time, I wrote a post called “We Need a Gospel That Speaks to Failure.” Take a couple minutes to read it, if you can.

You would think that we would have such a Gospel, but somehow we’ve missed it. To me, one of the oddest thing about living in a world that has seen its Savior come is that the one thing the Savior came to deliver is in such radically short supply: grace.

Recently, I said that I thought the largest unreached people group in the United States right now are those who have lost their homes to foreclosure. Here in America, what greater failure can exist than to kiss the American Dream home goodbye? Yet where is the Church on this?

Worse, where are the former homeowners? Are they in our pews or not? My guess is on the “not” side. The new breed of failure?I’m thinking that nothing hurts worse than to go down in flames in your church while everyone around looks the other way or quotes you Romans 8:28 off the motivational plaque they bought from the local Christian bookstore. Why stick around listening to sermons on Christian leadership when you were desperate for a servant in your time of need and one never showed up.

It really galled me that one of the largest sources of the pile-on afflicting those first homeowners who lost their homes at the beginning of all this was Christians. In our self-righteous ire, we blamed people for being stupid. And perhaps they were. But when is grace only for the smart people of the world?

One of the things about this financial implosion are the bystanders. Now, even people who did everything right are being wiped out. That may even be some of us. Does that make us stupid? Is the same measure of gracelessness that we doled out coming back to haunt us?

God, we need a Gospel that speaks to failure preached in our churches more than ever. Please, someone, anyone, preach it!