Yesterday's Chicago Tribune front page headline was Jesus in China. Two reporters have spent weeks on the road, researching how Christianity's rapid rise is reshaping this officially atheist nation. Peppered by striking conversion stories, they show how Christianity is spreading fast "by evangelical citizens at home."
And why is the government allowing this? They suggest it's partly because China's huge economic growth has weakened the country's "sense of ethics." One business man who became a Christian five years ago, "has launched a campaign to raise ethical awareness and revive a 'system of trust.''" He says: "We are not only doing business for man, we are doing business for heaven." Other influential figures advocate Christianity because it offers China a "common moral foundation capable of reducing corruption, narrowing the gap between rich and poor, promoting philathropy and even preventing pollution."
Now there are likely to be many reasons why the gospel is flourishing in China. And, of course, gospel is much more than ethics (- and clearly the new Chinese churches know that!) But what an interesting comment on the perceptions of a once hostile communist system. It reminds me of the early church "praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (Acts 2:47).