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The Church is Closed. Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (1:21)

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A church near Reykjavik

"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!"

Rob Chaffart

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