A church that’s accepted and approved by the world is a contradiction in terms because it is an impossibility. According to Jesus, any church that is loved by the world is of the world, and not of Christ.

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

My life has been greatly influenced by the writings of George Bowen, a Presbyterian missionary who labored in India from 1848 to 1888. Bowen gave up all his missionary support to move into a slum and live as the natives there did. He led a frugal existence, in near poverty. Yet, because of that choice, he left behind a testimony of the true power of living in Christ.

This godly man warned of an antichrist spirit to come which he identified as being “the spirit of modern society.” According to Bowen, this spirit would infiltrate the Protestant church with the mindset, methods and morals of the larger society.

The antichrist spirit would continue its influence until society and church couldn’t be differentiated. Over time, the world would lose its hatred for Christ’s Church and true believers. It would stop its persecution, and the Church would be loved and accepted by the world. Once that happened, Bowen wrote, this antichrist spirit would have taken the throne.

Several years ago, as the doors to Iraq were about to be opened to Christian relief organizations, The New York Times ran a derogatory article. That is to be expected from a liberal, secular press. They might applaud the distribution of food in Iraq, but certainly not the preaching of Christ.

The article quoted a Protestant scholar who was critical of the whole effort. He completely denounced it, saying the church should mind its own business; he seemed actually embarrassed that the church would be evangelizing. Now that is a worldly mindset!

The closer we get to the mission of Christ—to preaching the gospel that He has ordained—the more we will be despised by the world.