When we talk about the preacher’s preparation we have seen that he must not only exegete God’s Word but also his congregation and vitally himself.
When it comes to the cross-cultural missionary, there is also the need to do something like this. If the missionary engages in “Subversive fulfilment” when engaging with the beliefs of others, then first of all, he needs to do subversive fulfilment on himself.
This is important because we are likely to see ourselves and people like us as “culturally neutral.” John Piper writing about hip-hop artist, Lecrae’s description of himself as loosening his ties with white evangelicalism writes,
“When Lecrae read the first draft of this article, he commented that his experience has been that “white evangelicals” generally assume they are a-cultural and bring no cultural influence into the fleshing out of their faith. Which probably means that there is some majority-culture “identity development work” to be done. That is, let there be, at least, a (growing) awareness that our expressions of faith are inevitably shaped by culture. Every expression of faith, everywhere in the world, is embedded in and shaped by culture. Being oblivious to this does not help us with the difficult task of discerning when to be counter-cultural or not.”
Now whilst we are not a-cultural, some aspects of our culture may well be neutral or even positively shaped by Christian belief. However, as we saw earlier, there are also going to be aspects of our culture that are idolatrous and encourage idolatry in our own lives. So, here then is an application of Jesus’ teaching that before we take the speck out of our brother’s eye we need to remove the log from our own eye. Before I challenge the idolatry of others, I must devote my own idols to destruction.
Subversive Fulfilment on my own life means
- Step In
This means three things. First of all, it means that I take time to reflect on my own actions and my own heart. Is there anything I love more than Christ. Secondly because I also must recognise my blind-spots, I need to be willing to invite others in to challenge me. Thirdly and most vitally it is about allowing God’s Spirit through Scripture to search me and to speak to me.
- Search out
It means that I stop and ask “Why do I do what I do?” I have a vision/mission for my Gospel work. It may well be that within that vision are specific hopes and dreams that I am looking to be fulfilled
- Show Up
I must sit under God’s Word both by taking time to read it and allow it to speak to me first and by sitting under the preaching ministry of others. Am I challenged. Where are the idols in my life?
It means that when I step into another culture I am humbled by the positive things I see and it causes me to look at my heart again. It means that when I spot idolatry, I stop and ask “Do I exhibit similar types of idolatry?”
It means that I need to be challenged about where I am doing something for my own glory, my own sense of achievement, my own need to be needed. I identify my shadow mission.
- Show Off
I need to be reminded again and again that I do not find identity, value, fulfilment or salvation in my efforts as a pastor, planter, missionary or evangelist. Christ’s call is to come to him, feed on him and find satisfaction. It is only when I discover food in The Bread of Life and living Water from his eternal springs that I can say I am satisfied and refreshed. It is only in that context that I can seek to cross those cultural barriers.
I must not go into mission in order to fulfil my needs, desires and ambitions. Rather mission must arise as an outflow of God’s overflowing love and grace.