The church of Jesus Christ has always been persecuted in this Christ-rejecting and truth-hating world. Both Jesus and Paul taught the absolute inevitability of this fallen world’s perpetual and pitiless persecution of the Christlike and godly (John 15:18-20; 2 Timothy 3:12).
Contrary to popular opinion, in our country’s contemporary churches, the true sign of faithfulness to Christ is not worldly popularity, but the world’s persecution. The only way to get along with this world is to go along with it, which means you’re definitely not getting along with God (James 4:4). On the other hand, to go the way of God rather than the way of the world is to inescapably estrange yourself from the world, which is at enmity with God.
No wonder the true Christian is admonished to never allow himself/herself to be squeezed into the world’s mold (Romans 12:1-2 PHILLIPS). We are to be a peculiar people in this world, as well as a separate people from it, who rejoice in being persecuted by it, as proof of our reserved and otherworldly reward (1 Peter 2:8; 2 Corinthians 6:17; 1 Peter 4:12-14; Matthew 5:11-12). Far from fitting in and winning favor, we should stick out, in order to win souls. After all, as Scripture clearly teaches, we can’t win the world by being like it and liked by it.
The popular, but erroneous belief, that churches gaining the world’s favor are the most favored by God, flies in the face of Scripture. As Charles Haddon Spurgeon once wrote: “Every church that the world adores is a church that God abhors.”
As the spirit of antichrist engulfs the earth, inciting the ill will of sinners toward the saints, the true church of Jesus Christ will be increasingly abhorred rather than adored. Whereas persecuted churches will be proven to be the ones in which God delights, popular churches will be proven to be the ones that God deplores.