This past week brought yet another wave of critique for tired preachers everywhere. Across my newsfeed was the imperative: If your pastor does not preach about these immigrant children, then you should leave your church.

Well, here’s a suggestion:

If your pastor does not preach the Gospel this week, then you should leave your church. But don’t leave until after the service is over. And then definitely come back the next week. Because I am going to assume that with all of the voices in this sin-sick, weary, demanding world, your preacher is doing his or her best. I am imagining that they are struggling each week with how to coalesce the Gospel with the trauma of the world.

Initially, it was just the internet-famous Christians suggesting that the faithful walk out of churches without the right kind of preaching. They tell their followers to leave churches—and then get loads of shares from those who attend church. Those people’s pastors then scroll through their social media feeds and have to start breathing into the paper bag marked, “Will my sermon be newsy enough this week?”

I’ve grown to expect this narrative from people who are not in a pulpit Sunday after Sunday. But I was astonished at how many fellow preachers who posted the law of Thou Shalt Preach This Issue, presumably directed at their colleagues. But post it they did.

Dear preachers, isn’t this job hard enough? Do we really have to bully each other? Are we perhaps anxious about how our own sermon will turn out that week? Are we worried how we will talk about the latest event that tells us the world is a broken place? But instead of opening up the Gospels to what Jesus has given us this week, we turn our ire on those who look like us.

In my faith tradition, the average service is one hour long. Which gives you about 15 minutes to preach a sermon. A quarter of an hour to share the Gospel. That’s like 1/16th of the Today Show. Or 1/4th of Morning Edition. It seems like a missed opportunity to use that time to add our voices to the unholy chorus of shoulds and have to’s we hear in the news cycle.

Here’s the thing: I actually did want every Christian in the country to have a heart for these parents and their separated children. I wanted us to remember Jesus’s specific love for the little and the lost. I wanted us to mourn and pray and act.

But it makes me sad that in so many of our pulpits, the “Good News” boils down to “Here’s what is wrong with the world and here is how you can fix it.” I grow tired of that imperative and stop listening. We have been giving each other that advice for a very long time, and it does not seem to be working.

We cannot preach the Gospel of moral wrongs every week and not also be crying wolf. We keep telling people to act less fallen, forgetting that falling is all we know how to do. We keep telling people that they are the superheroes of their own stories, when the damning truth is that we are super villains, at least in our thoughts, on our most holiest of days.

And who pays for all of this self-righteous “shoulding?” Everyone. Because the people who hear the word of constant activism will eventually tune it out. Do more, be more, serve more. Okay, but how? And with what to guide me? Also, the problems in our individual lives go entirely unaddressed. Who wants to talk about a life in shambles when we can skip our personal problems and talk about fixing the world?

(Raises hand.)

I’m convinced that the greatest sufferers in this kind of we-will-fix-the-world preaching are those children who have been separated from their parents. Because their story can become just one story (in a never-ending story) about people who need Christians to act. Because their tiny voices get lost in a sea of self-righteous, call-to-action noise. Because they are the flavor this week. But what about the next? Who will be the news we should preach next week?

In the weeks, months, and even years ahead, I pray that we will not forget these children and their suffering. They have been wounded beyond all knowing. I hope that Christians everywhere will ask God for healing and hope in the lives of those little ones and their distraught parents. But I suppose I’d be surprised if anything managed to hold our attention for that long, especially if the pulpit moves right along to the next imperative cause for us to “fix.”

Honestly, I sometimes wonder if preachers, and often hearers too, relish “newsworthy” sermons because it gives us a way to avoid the scandal of the Gospel. Which is a real bummer, since the Gospel gives us a way to respond that has nothing and everything to do with what is on the front page.

Pastor Steve Brown is one of my favorite preachers. He’s a gruff conservative Presbyterian minister and theologian with whom, at face value, I have little in common. Except that we both cling to the fact that Jesus loves us, the unlovable. He begins each of his sermons with a clear message to himself, “Lord, we pray for the one who preaches. For you know his sins are many.”

Now that’s an honest way to get out of bed in the morning.

Most days I need to hear about my specific brokenness and about how Jesus can heal it. Not how I can heal it. But Him. I need to hear that the love of God is boundless in mercy. And I need to hear about my unrelenting sin. Because me being some kind of a Jesus-like superhero is a bad joke—and one that we’ve all heard way too many times.

I need to hear about a Gospel that calls the ungodly righteous. I need to be called on to think of my enemies and how pissed I’ll be when I see them in heaven. I need real love spoken into my broken spoke of a heart.

I do not need to hear about what I should be doing, I need to hear about what has been done by the Doer on my behalf.

Call me callous and sinful (you would be right on both counts), but this is actually the only way I can give a damn about anyone else. We love children because He became a weak and vulnerable child on our behalf. We love mothers (and fathers) because we know that His own mother suffered at the foot of the cross. Our hearts break for others because He healed our hearts in the most broken way possible.

Everything else just makes me a self-righteous tired person.

We love because he first loved us.