This is the second article where I post Pastor Wang Yi’s open letter with my commentary. As I detail in the first post, Pastor Wang and around a 100 others were have gone missing after being arrested by police in Chengdu, China.Part 2
The Second Half of Wang’s Letter
Precisely because none of my words and actions are directed toward seeking and hoping for societal and political transformation, I have no fear of any social or political power. For the Bible teaches us that God establishes governmental authorities in order to terrorize evildoers, not to terrorize doers of good. If believers in Jesus do no wrong then they should not be afraid of dark powers. Even though I am often weak, I firmly believe this is the promise of the gospel. It is what I’ve devoted all of my energy to. It is the good news that I am spreading throughout Chinese society.
Pastor Wang’s opening words expose the withered root that fuels much of political activism among Christians in the West. How many people do fear social and political powers, whether in the form of government sanction, social media, or business? How many believers expect their time and energies fixated on changing public policy because they unwittingly fear social or political power.
He obviously knows the harm that evil or corrupt powers can inflict on people. After all, he prepared this letter to be released should he find himself “missing” (i.e., taken in by authorities) for more than 48 hours. Yet, he (a) holds firm to biblical promises and (b) has allowed the Bible to redefine perceptions and expectations. A people who seek the good of society will eventually find themselves victorious, whether through the power of their sustained example or by virtue of the Lord vindicating them.
Whatever the case, the path is one of trusting the Lord who has sovereignly allowed the existence of atheist regimes
I also understand that this happens to be the very reason why the Communist regime is filled with fear at a church that is no longer afraid of it.
How ironic and again in contradistinction to the church in America (and likely elsewhere). What is the biblical logic that imbues Wang with such boldness? To put it simply, why cower and equivocate in fear?
The worst the Communists can do is kill us. Do we not believe in the resurrection?
If I am imprisoned for a long or short period of time, if I can help reduce the authorities’ fear of my faith and of my Savior, I am very joyfully willing to help them in this way. But I know that only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the church and use peaceful means to disobey, will I truly be able to help the souls of the authorities and law enforcement. I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.
Wang reminds us that our fundamental tool that God uses is our faithful demonstration and proclamation of Christ’s kingdom. If we proclaim a privatize gospel concerned only with personal salvation and devotional practices, we do not contest the rebellious spirit that plagues our generation. If we zealously resist the dictates of godless regimes in the name of democracy and human rights, we proclaim humanity as king, not Jesus. To faithfully and fruitfully endure persecution, we need to adopt Wang’s perspective.
Does it bring you joy to think you could allay the authorities’ errant suspicions about the church if only you would endure suffering for a season? Does it quicken your heart to think losing your freedom could be the ordained means by which God would grant freedom to others?
Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.
Because this brother has prepared his mind for action, he embraces injustice against him and chooses to redeem it by making sure that he suffers for the right reason— faithfulness to Christ, not for fleeting political or social reform.
Wang’s thinking about the law is nonsensical to the average Chinese person. Ask most people, “what is the right and moral thing a person can do?” and they will soon say something like, “Obey the law.” Yet, this pastor “will not serve the law” because knows that no laws usurp Christ’s authority.
To yield to unjust laws is to adopt the character that legislated them.
As you read Wang’s words above, what fueled your angst about this situation? Empathy? A denial of rights? If you are like me, you likely did not make this connection— persecution is a threat to the lives of unbelievers, not just believers.
Moreover, I must point out that persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians. For the government is brutally and ruthlessly threatening them and hindering them from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness in the world than this.
Sadly, and ironically, some of those unbelievers are within the regime itself. They unknowingly put the knife to their own soul. Should this not sustain our compassion amid our indignation?
If this regime is one day overthrown by God, it will be for no other reason than God’s righteous punishment and revenge for this evil. For on earth, there has only ever been a thousand-year church. There has never been a thousand-year government. There is only eternal faith. There is no eternal power.
This is the cosmic equivalent to when parents tell their junior high school children, “Those kids you think matter and are cool…will not matter at all to you in 10 years.”
Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.
Do we pray with compassion or spite when we pray concerning the regime’s oppressors? If compassion, ought it not spur us to act and doing so in distinctly constructive ways that magnify the worth of Christ?
Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.
We waste so much of our lives complaining about what this or that person has done or not done. We are quick to excuse ourselves and blame others. However, Wang has a singular focus…. “What can I control?”
Faithfulness is about what we can do, not complaining about what others do.
And so, respectable officers, stop committing evil. This is not for my benefit but rather for yours and your children’s. I plead earnestly with you to stay your hands, for why should you be willing to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for the sake of a lowly sinner such as I?
Brother Wang does not have a foreign passport that he can waive and perhaps avoid torture and whatever punishment that inflict on him. I often wonder why so many Westerners are so anxious about the government’s “finding out they are Christians” when they, at worst, will simply be sent to their comfortable homes where WiFi will actually work without a VPN!
Because this brother must face the steep cost of following Christ as a Chinese citizen, he has to consider what really is at stake. He is not concerned with rights and conveniences, neither his life. He has the eternal fate of his persecutors on his mind.
Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.
When we get the gospel right–– Jesus is king of the whole earth–– then we find ourselves empowered with the courage to be meek and the meekness to suffer with joy.
I often talk about the gospel on this site and this pastor’s testimony illustrates why. A simple “God loves you and Jesus died for you” message is wonderful but deplete of the power that comes from a more biblical robust grasp of the gospel.
When someone asks, “What is the gospel?” what is your instinctive answer?
First draft on September 21st, 2018; revised on October 4th. To be published by the church after 48 hours of detention.
For Part One of Wang’s letter, click here.
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