The Gospel Comes With a House Key - Book Review
The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield delves deeper into the call and art of Biblical hospitality than other books I’ve read on the same subject. As I read, I marked up every page.
Butterfield says, “Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed” (page 31).
Though I read the book one month ago, several takeaways remain fresh in my mind. Butterfield gave me a lot to think about:
My house is actually God’s house. My home is not my own, rather I am a steward of this place that God has entrusted to me to use for his glory.
Margin is needed in our family schedule and finances if we want to be hospitable. If I’m going to steward my home and other resources well, and if I’m going to minister well to others, then I’m going to need margin.
My home is a place for the good news of Christ, not just a meal and good advice. Because of this book I am thinking hard about whether I dish up worldly wisdom or gospel truths in my conversations with my neighbors.
Hospitality is spiritual warfare, because its purpose is to “take the hand of a stranger and put it in the hand of a Savior, to bridge hostile worlds, and to add to the family of God.” (page 34). I’m reminded to not take this holy task lightly, but to bathe it in prayer.
Opening my home gives me street cred with my post-Christian neighbors. By opening up our home and regularly loving people who have very different values than our own proves that we do not have an agenda other than loving God and loving others.
Radically ordinary hospitality requires that I die to my to-do list all day every day so I can love God and love my neighbor well. A consistently open home means a consistently undone to-do list. I want to be okay with that. I want God to reorder my priorities to that end.
You may know that Butterfield came to Christ herself through being a constant guest in a Christian home. If you don’t know that story, be sure to check out The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert : An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith. Knowing this background story (which she does retell briefly in The Gospel Comes With a House Key) will enhance your appreciation of the way she applies Biblical hospitality now. When you’re tempted to think, Well these ideas are kind of extreme, her backstory testifies to their effectiveness in God’s hands through his people.
One Small Word of Caution
As I’ve discussed this book with a number of other women I have become aware that some take the message of this book as condemnation, rather than conviction. In other words, some have felt unnecessary shame or guilt for not practicing hospitality exactly the way Butterfield does. My encouragement to all readers is to allow the message of this book to compel you. In so far as it does that - rejoice! But do not feel unnecessarily defeated for not loving God and loving your neighbors just as she does. You do what you believe God is asking of you in your context. Do rightly consider idols and barriers in your life, and do rightly smash them, and do open your home—but do it according to God’s calling and gifting on you. Allow this book to spur you on to love and good deeds.