“We lose the scandal of the gospel when we hunker down with our political tribes.”
Ed: What is it about Western culture that prompted you to write about choosing love over fear?
Dan: The very first spark of the book started local. A few years back during the Romney/Obama Election—which seems like child’s play compared to the Trump/Clinton Election—I had an event occur that stirred up a storm.
An individual who attended my church decided to leave. The circumstances around her departure left me scratching my head. She gently shared, “Dan, I don’t feel safe in this church knowing there are liberals here who believe so differently than me. I just can’t relax and be myself.” I tried desperately to convey that there was space for her, but it wasn’t enough.
Fast forward just a couple of weeks later and a couple came to me with the same intense concern, yet this time from the opposite angle. “Dan, we’re not sure we will ever feel settled here with people who hold such oppressive positions. We need a church that takes sides.” I tried to persuade them that our church was a space for both conservatives and progressives to dwell in community. They made it clear they’d be moving on.
I grieved that both of these folks could not stay in the mix together. They were repelled by each other. Rather than moving toward one another, despite their differences, they chose more distance. I sense this moment was a snapshot of the state of our country, and the church, more importantly.
Ever since, I’ve been on a journey, asking these questions: “Can we coexist together?” “Is it possible to share in local table fellowship?” If we take our cues from cable news, we might give an emphatic “no” to that question. It sure seems …