The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield
Once upon a time, two believers invited a sinner over for a meal. That sinner eventually became a saint, pastor’s wife, mama, home-opener, writer, and speaker. This is her story. Pull up a chair as Rosaria shares about the grace and grittiness of life around her table; you might just find yourself longing to gather people around yours as well. “There are, of course, other ways you can use your days, your time, your money, and your home. But opening your front door and greeting neighbors with soup, bread, and the words of Jesus are the most important.” Whether you’re a seasoned hospitality expert or brand-new to this foundational Christian practice, come on in—there’s room at the table for you.
Here are a few quotes I especially loved:
The God who names and numbers the stars holds in His scarred hands the shards of your broken heart. Of this I am sure.
That is what the Bible always does. It tells the whole story. And the whole story is one of multi-directional hope—of past and present and future, of what will come to pass, and of what must be fulfilled in order for hope to manifest.
Bitter desperation leaves only gospel promises sweet.
Counterfeit hospitality comes with strings; Christian hospitality comes with strangers becoming neighbors becoming family of God and gathering in the great expectation of God’s coming world.
We see our home as a palette of color and hope, of comfort and restoration, of God’s healing and grace.
When Christians throw their lot in with Jesus, we lose the rights to protect our own reputation.
Sometimes people need homes to nest in, and sometimes people need homes to launch from. Both are crucial. Both are God’s work.
My biggest takeaway was how to stop allowing my personal wiring to justify a closed-off life. God designed me with a particularly introspective soul, and opening the door is a huge struggle for me no matter how much I love the people knocking. Rosaria’s ministry (a constant flow in and out of her house almost every night of the week) is all the more profound because she’s not a natural extrovert. Her words simultaneously comfort and convict me:
We introverts miss out on great blessings when we excuse ourselves from practicing hospitality because it exhausts us. I often find people exhausting. But over the years I have learned how to pace myself, how to prepare for the private time necessary to recharge, and how to grow in discomfort. Knowing your personality and your sensitivities does not excuse you from ministry. It means that you need to prepare for it differently than others might.
Well, dang. There goes my safety blanket. On the upside, it’s nice to know there are other introverts living out this brave and vital calling in the strength of the Lord. I’m not asked to serve from an empty tank; but I am asked to serve.
Some questions I’ll need to journal through include:
- How can I begin to see my home as an incubator and a hospital?
- When do I need Jesus to enter the conversation—not to shut down conflict, but to shape it, to pry me open to the light?
- How can I protect others from feeling suffocated by the weight of my expectations?
- Have I made myself safe to share the real hardships of unbelievers? If not, then why not?
- When do I feel the pull to say everything there is to say on a subject?
- How can I cultivate a broken and contrite spirit? Where might I invite correction?
- What is the true identity God has been holding safe for me to step into?
- When am I most tempted to let down my guard against pride and defend the person I used to be?
- Where do I need to be broken by the teaching of Jesus?
- How does God want to channel my feminine strength to serve my family with creative excellence?
NOTE: This is not an easy read. As brilliant as I (and countless others) have found this book, it does touch on a few raw issues, sometimes in detail. While the gospel is always on glorious display, highly sensitive readers should be prepared for much more truth than beauty in the scenes of Rosaria’s story.