Friday Reflection – Common Grace and Learning from the City

Friday Reflections is a new series on the China Partnership blog. Twice a month, we will share a short reflection from a Chinese pastor on the nature of the gospel. Though we often post longer articles, there is a richness to short and concise thoughts. 

Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking and writing about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.

There are two important things we can learn from the history of the Western church.

First, we must treat tradition rightly. That is to say, we are not to neglect tradition, but we are also not to be bound by it, so that we can reflect upon it and change accordingly in order to use its advantages and discard its disadvantages. In the church, this involves teaching the truth and establishing institutional structures, and both must return to the Bible for alignment.

Second, the church has a unique perspective on culture. We can apply the meaning of common grace and the church, so that believers can be clear in their vocations and families in order to live out a gospel-centered life. Believers can be preachers and servants of the gospel in their work environments and situations. This cultural perspective is a very important one for Chinese churches, especially as I feel that the house churches must now renew our understanding of culture. We can enhance our ability to dialogue with the culture. 

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This is the renewal that came with studying the cultural mandate. In the past, my perspective was that the church should be separate from the culture, because it is separated as holy; I neglected common grace and I refused to learn anything from non-believers. But I have come to realize the radiating sparks that God gives to both believers and unbelievers alike in the city. They are not directly related to salvation; we are realizing how other churches humbly learn from the youth of their generation. 

I realized that I used to look down on students who did not study well, but I now see many things I can learn from them. So, these are all good for establishing relationship with them; not just in order to evangelize, but for truly wanting to befriend them. Even if they do not believe in the Lord, I am still willing to have relationship with them and learn from them. This is the right attitude with which to view culture.

Translation provided by the China Partnership translation team.

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Further Reading

Building a Biblical Church: The Institution Is Not the Goal
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Reflections from Jail
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Building a Biblical Church: Our Challenges
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