The Church is Closed. Radical Grace
from the Book of Romans (1:21)
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks
to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were
darkened." (Rom 1:21 NIV)
Is this text just for unbelievers?
You be the judge!
We have visited many different churches over the years. Sad to say, we've often
walked in and out of churches without anyone even noticing us. It certainly
didn't make us feel very welcome!
We even visited a church once where we were asked, less than politely, to sit in
the back row. Not wanting to cause a commotion, we did as we were asked.
Nonetheless, everyone in the congregation stared at us with suspicion. Could it
have been our clothing? Though we were dressed in our Sunday finest, we kind of
stood out in the crowd! Everyone around us was dressed in 18th century dark
clothes, with hats on their heads!
Our most recent "make us feel welcome" church visit happened just outside of
Reykjavik in Iceland. The brochure told us that the church was "open every day",
and since all churches in this vicinity were open from 10 to 6, when we arrived
at 4:30 in the afternoon, we weren't surprised to find the church doors wide open.
"I guess they're expecting us!" Joked one of my boys.
We climbed the stairs, took off our hats, and entered the church vestibule. My
wife and I turned aside here, to read the information posted at the church
entrance, but both of my sons immediately entered the sanctuary.
"No, no, no!" Cried out a voice from within.
Like any "good" parents, my wife and I immediately assumed our boys were
misbehaving and turned to them. But to our relief, they were being as good as
gold. Nonetheless, one of the ladies inside the church was hurrying towards
them, shooing them back into the vestibule, and closing the door in their faces!
"The church is closed!" She stated just before the doorknob clicked shut.
That's when I started to wonder how seekers of the truth (unbelievers) feel when
they visit our churches. Do they feel welcome? Do they feel the presence of
God's Spirit? Do we put our own agendas aside in order to spend time with them?
Do we show genuine love?
Or do we, by our actions, leave them feeling unwelcome, as if someone had shut
the door in their face? Do we treat them like the thousands of bugs that splash against our
windshield as we drive down the highway in the summertime?
Has our thinking become futile as well? Are we glorifying God in everything we
do? Do we thank Him for everything-and everyone-He sends our way?
"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the
interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…"
(Phil 2:4-5 NIV)
"Excuse me! May I get my hat? It slipped out of my hand and fell into the
sanctuary when you closed the door in my face!"