In response to the explosive growth of Christianity in China, the country’s communist authorities have ramped up efforts to curb the trend – imprisoning Christians, shutting down churches and Christian schools, and moving to release their own state-sanctioned revision of the Bible.
Last December, Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu became a target of such efforts, forced to shut its doors as an estimated 100 members were hauled away by state police. This included the pastor, Wang Yi, and his wife, Jiang Rong, both of whom are still detained for “inciting to subvert state power,” a crime that could keep them in prison for up to 15 years. According to church sources, authorities have now arrested more than 300 members of their church, including children.
As we witness these violations of individual freedom, it can be easy to focus only on resisting and restricting the autocrats at the top and how we might dismantle their preferred methods of systemic oppression – in this case, Chinese–style Communism. Indeed, this is an important and necessary step.
Yet according to Yi himself, now detained in a jail cell, the revolution that’s needed is not so much against Communism as it is for the Kingdom of God, which, in turn, is sure to spread the law of liberty up and down and back again.
In a profound and beautiful sermon titled “The Gospel of Peace,” preached almost a year before his imprisonment, Yi outlined his views on the political significance of the cross, emphasizing that its power comes not from humanistic control and manipulation, but from an free-flowing peace that repairs and restores peoples, communities, economies, and ideological factions across public life.
“The gospel is true politics,” Yi explains. “It is a higher kind of politics, the politics of God. It is a kind of politics that is invisible, that does not need the sword, that refuses the sword, that says, ‘put your sword away.’ Those who do not believe the gospel think that politics ultimately depends on the sword, don’t they? How can you have politics without relying on the sword? How can you gather together those who are scattered about? How can you rule? How can you get rid of the walls dividing people? How can you maintain stability?”