A Conversation with Brian Jennings

A Q&A with pastor Brian Jennings, author of the new NavPress release Dancing in No Man’s Land.

A Conversation with Brian Jennings

Q: Why did you write this book?

Three things happened all in the span of one week, five and a half years ago.

First, I was reading about World War I, and the beginning of widespread trench/bunker warfare. Neither side dared exit their bunkers. To do so would mean likely death. The land between the bunkers was called no man’s land.

Second, heated arguments erupted about the Affordable Care Act. Some clambered to a bunker that accused, “If you support this bill, you hate our country.” Others shot back from an opposing bunker, “If you do not support this bill, you hate the poor.” The message was clear: “You are either with me or against me.” I didn’t want to hate anyone, which meant I needed to choose no man’s land!

Third, God taught me something from the book of Daniel. Daniel served a wicked king faithfully, but was unfairly sentenced to death. Most of us would’ve plotted some form of revenge, defense, or attack. But Daniel 2:14 leapt off the page to me: “Daniel responded with wisdom and tact.” Throughout his life, Daniel never sacrificed a commitment to God’s truth or a desire to be at peace with people—even his oppressors. He lived in no man’s land.

The more I studied Scripture, the more clearly I saw how Jesus also lived in no man’s land. I wanted to learn how to do the same, and I wanted to help the Church learn how to pursue truth without assaulting those who disagree.

Q: Why does the Church need this message now?

It’s possible for the Church to, in its defense of truth, mistreat others and push them further into their bunkers. It’s also possible for the Church, in its desire for peace, to disregard God’s truth. But every time man abandons God’s truth, we destroy ourselves.

When a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus (John 8), he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He showed unmatched grace to this woman. But before she left, he said, “Go and sin no more.” Truth still mattered to Jesus. This book is a call for the Church to pursue truth and peace.

Q: How have people reacted to the book so far?

Last week I spoke to 150 middle and high school students about the book. Two days later, I spoke to about 150 seasoned Christians. It struck me that both groups equally resonated with the topic. Numerous people, at both events, told me afterward that this topic hit them square between the eyes. They told stories about family fights and social media fiascoes, and how they were so troubled at our divisions. I can’t find anyone who doesn’t feel the repercussions of our world’s bunker-living.

Q: What do you hope readers will do with what you’ve written?

My prayer has been that this book will help people find their way to no man’s land. When a heated news story breaks, I now see people running for their bunker and firing at those not with them. Then I pray about where Jesus would be. He’d hold onto truth (regardless of what others thought of Him), but He’d make every effort to also show love, peace, gentleness, and kindness to people. If we can do this, we can actually help people have their hearts changed by Christ, and we can develop both compassion and wisdom too. For a while, it may feel like we’re dodging lots of bullets, but if enough of us commit to the way of Jesus, it will begin to feel more like a dance.

Comments:

  1. When Brian comments, “…He’d make every effort to also show love, peace,gentleness, and kindness to people.”, I was wondering if and how he addresses Jesus’ encounter with the moneychangers in the temple. It may sound like I’m heading for a bunker here, but I’m not. I am genuinely curious how he addresses this in light of his statement.

    1. Hey Michael. Brian here. This is a great question and I appreciate you asking. While you listed the one time Jesus physically rebuked people, there were other times where he verbally rebuked them. So I have thought about this quite a bit and I wrestle with it some in the book. Let me give you a real brief answer here.
      To defend, protect, and love some people – especially the mistreated ones – may require us to be harsh with someone else, or at the very least, be very stern. The poor people were getting ripped off in the temple, and I think Jesus got his point across quite well. At another time, Jesus rebukes his disciples for wanting to call down fire on the Samaritans. Again, he raised his voice in order to protect someone else. At Simon‘s house, he tells a story that makes Simon look bad in order to accept the worship of the woman anointing his feet.
      While Jesus was harsh with these people, he communicated something to everyone watching. At the same time, I believe he allowed room for those he was rebuking to turn from their sin and follow him.
      I believe walking in no mans land gets a little messy. Holding onto truth and peace at the same time is a difficult task. Blessings.

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