David Fandey is the founding pastor of The Fields, an Acts 29 church plant in Carlsbad, CA. Before planting The Fields, David served 9 years at Riverview Church located in North County, San Diego. He has been serving as an adjunct professor at Biola University for over ten years. David is also the Australia area director for Acts29 International. David and his wife Wilma have been married 19 years have six children.
When we talk about the missional life, we are going to have to udnerstand that mission is always cross cultural. All of us have a culture that we come from. Culture is not inherently amoral. Every culture has elements that are inherently bad and all have elements that are altogether good. But no culture is amoral. Mission is cross cultural by its very nature. Missional living means understanding the horizontal implications of the gospel in the context of the culture we’re trying to reach. To use Dr. Jones’ language, we’re bringing a Two-ist gospel and applying it into a One-ist culture.
We need to figure out what it means to live missionally in the culture in which God has placed us. To be on mission, we need to understand the culture. Sometimes we call this process exegeting the culture, attempting to understand what drives the locals—people’s priorities, motivations, the idols of their hearts… We need to ask these things and we’ll find that there are some things that we absolutely cannot stand. But we need to understand what drives the locals if we are to reach them.
We also need to examine our own culture. Are we carrying a biblical message across these bridges of culture or are we carrying an unbiblical one? As we learn to be more and more on mission, we’ll find more areas about which we need to repent and our views will be stretched. So early on in our church plant, I kept hearing “God is not a Republican!”—but I grew up thinking that he was. And so I want to shout back, “He’s not a Democrat either!” Because God’s above all that. What’s important is not [necessarily] a political position, but the gospel. I hope we can take this beautiful gospel message to this one-ist world and will begin to see the beauty of the two-ist worldview.
One of the things that I’ve so appreciated about this conference is the call to stand upon the Word of God—to allow the Word of God to be in authority over all of our cultural ideas. In John 4:1-45, we read of Jesus doing this very thing.
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria.
Now Jesus didn’t have to pass through Samaria, there were other ways to get through. The Samaritans were despised people, “half-breeds” and “quarter breeds” because of the Syrian conquest, and although they traced their origins back to Joseph through Ephraim, the Jews rejected them. But Jesus did have to pass through—as though he had a divine appointment.
So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
This is a huge deal—a huge cultural no-no. He was breaking a huge cultural norm in asking her for a drink. But he not only asks her for a drink—a Samaritan and a woman—that was defilement. It’s huge that he says any of these, crossing any barrier possible to engage her with the gospel. And this is a question that we have to ask—what barriers are we willing to cross in order to engage with the One-ist culture for the purposes of sharing the gospel.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
The woman knows this is completely outside of the norm and she’s intrigued. After all, he has no container; so she responds from within her culture. She appeals to Jacob—but Jesus responds by going beyond the culture. Jesus says “everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again”—the water of One-ism will only leave them thirsty. The things of this life with which we attempt to satisfy our thirsty souls always fail us. They never work.
And this woman gets this, and she responds, “Sir, give me this water.” She wants it, she knows that what she’s after will fail to satisfy. The only thing that will bring life—eternal life—is the “water” Jesus offers our thirsty souls. Then Jesus goes on a zig-zag:
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
This just comes out of nowhere; but Jesus knows everything you’ve ever done—everything any of us have done. And so she hides, she knows what she’s done and wants to escape condemnation. But Jesus responds, stating the fact, but he doesn’t condemn. She knows she’s already condemned. And part of what we have to do is not condemn the world, but to help the world see that they’re already condemned—so they can process through the implications, like the woman:
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Basically, it doesn’t matter where, the point is worshipping in spirit and truth. People have exchanged the truth for a lie, but God is seeking people who will worship in truth.
And the woman starts jumping and says, “I know that Messiah is coming… When he comes, he will tell us all things.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.
Her witness is incredible—the woman takes off and goes to the people of her town and said, “Come see a man who told me all I ever did.”
Then there’s this conversation that’s going on in verses 31-38; the disciples are asking God what’s going on. Jesus tells them that he has had food they do not know about. And they’re like what? And Jesus says that his food is to do the will of “him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” This is our work as well—we are here to live on mission for God’s glory; that is the will of the Father. Look at what Jesus says:
Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
I want to close with a few points of application:
1. We must engage the culture and not retreat from it. Missional living is necessarily cross-cultural living. As Christians, we are living in a culture that is different from the biblical worldview. As Christians we live in the biblical worldview of Two-ism. But that is not the view of the surrounding culture. We must be humble, walk circumspectly about our own cultural biases, showing love and compassion.
2. We are to love and not hate. The culture does not like us. In fact, the culture hates us. They would like to eradicate my “tribe.” When I hear what the surrounding culture says about us, I want to fight back; it bums my spirit when I see One-ism make in-roads. But I have to ask myself [when this happens], am I upset because of my love for people or because my team isn’t winning? A really good question to ask ourselves is do we really love the unsaved or do they just annoy the heck out of us?
3. Hold to the truth. We decided early on in our church that we would not pull any punches—we’d say what the Bible says.
4. It will necessarily cost us to live missionally. It takes time, it will drain us emotionally because lives are so messy. It will cost us because we will have to interact with sinners in order to see them saved. And if you choose to live missionally, you’ll be hit from both sides. The sinners will hate you because you’re telling them to repent and the religious will hate you because you’re a friend of sinners.
5. It will take time to see the results. In my cultural context, it’s the long-haul. It’s the long-haul view.
6. We need to live authentically. The people out there need the gospel, but I need it too.
7. Be in prayer. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
People are perishing. They need the gospel—will we repent where we need to? Will we reach out with love and truth?