The City of God on Earth, Part 4: The Church Is the Capital of a Whole New World

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Editor’s note: This series is created from a talk given by Wang Yi, a pastor and a leading voice in the house church in China. Wang Yi addressed a group of fellow pastors and church members, challenging them to view the gospel as the coming of the kingdom of God on earth, not just a means of individual salvation. This address was given at a 2014 conference in Hong Kong. Read last week’s post here and check back next week for the rest of the series!

An American congressman once said there are two types of congressmen and women in America: liberals and conservatives. But even among conservative representatives, there are two types: angry conservatives, who are angry because they are conservative; and joyful conservatives, who are joyful because they are conservative. 

In the church we find the same situation; we also have two types of members. Generally speaking, many in the family churches are conservative Christians. In Greek culture, the word for the church was the same as their word for legislature. If someone from the city of Corinthians, for instance, picked up Paul’s letters to the churches there, he would be very surprised to learn the letters were written to the Corinthian churches. He would probably go to the police, because in addition to the legislature they already had in the city, it seemed there was another “legislature.” He might be afraid this new legislature would incite people to overturn the government. In the “church-legislature,” among representatives of the city of God, liberal representatives are like the younger son, and angry conservative representatives are like the older son. We are not only to be conservative, but joyful conservatives: conservative Christians renewed by grace.

Brothers and sisters, this psalm responds to the issues faced by Chinese society. Psalm 46 answers questions about where time has gone. How can we answer the questions Chinese society faces about the passage of time? Time’s passage is a fate the Scriptures sum up as “in the morning it flourishes…in the evening it fades” (Ps. 90:6) and “he comes out like a flower and withers.” (Job 14:2) Psalm 46 tells us the Lord is our dwelling place, that our entire hope and faith is placed on the Lord living in a city, and that “the Lord of hosts is with us.” 

Facing the elapse of time, the death of family members, and the fading away of life reminds me of another Psalm of Zion. Psalm 48 says, in the city God will be our God forever and ever. Another psalm tells us, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” (Ps. 90:1) Jesus fulfilled the promise and hope of dwelling together with us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) 


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Jesus came among us from the very starting point of time, and all times are in his hands. In Romans we see a response to the fears Chinese society faces about the passage of time: time is “from him and through him and to him.” (Rom. 11:36) Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us.” The dream of God and people living together on earth was realized in Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s coming poured out his salvation on a group of lowly but powerful people who belonged to him. At that moment, the future Jerusalem appeared in the earthly city of Jerusalem. In a spiritual sense, the church became the capital of a whole new world. The church became the city of God. Israelites from every nation under heaven are representatives of the whole earth, representatives of God’s plan to “be exalted in the earth.” (Ps. 46:10) 

I don’t know if we have any co-workers from Chongqing among us today. Chongqing is called a city of mountains; the church in today’s China is a city of mountains. I don’t know if there are any co-workers from Jinan among us. Your city is called a city of fountains, because there are fountains of living water flowing out from under the city; so the churches in each city of China are cities of God where fountains of life flow out from underneath our feet. I don’t know if there are any co-workers from Zigong in Sichuan province with us? Your city is known as a salt city; but the church in each city of China today should be the real city of salt. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. There must be many co-workers from Beijing here. Your city is called the capital; but the church should be the real capital in each city of China. Psalm 46 is a response to the desire and pursuit of today’s Chinese people toward the major cities.

As cities of God and capitals of the world, the church is found in each city of this world. People’s dreams—of major cities, their comparisons of major and minor cities, and their ambition to build a bigger city—end in the city. Without the gospel (which has already entered and will continue to enter each city in China)—the commission to preach the gospel, to build the city of God, and to expand the Lord’s kingdom, our society will be anxious to build more and bigger cities. 

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Loving People Through Prayer
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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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Stories from Qingdao

About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Stories from Chongqing

About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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Stories from Guangzhou

About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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Stories from Kunming

About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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Stories from Shenzhen

About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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Stories from Chengdu

About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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Stories from Beijing

About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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Stories from Shanghai

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