This week’s Sunday Reading, The Gospel Comes With A House Key by Rosaria Butterfield, is a book I planned to feature in early 2020. I read it in February 2020 and wrote this review shortly after reading it.
This review was scheduled to go up in March of 2020, but then 2020 happened and much of the world shut down. Sharing a Sunday Reading book review about hospitality just didn’t seem to fit. So this post has sat in draft for over two years.
It was time to finally feature it. Hospitality is missing in the Christian world and the last two years have made the problem even worse. I hope this week’s Sunday Reading will inspire you to open your door to others in whatever way you can.
If you are a new reader, Sunday Reading is where one Sunday a month, I feature a Christian book. I call it Sunday Reading so that it is clear it is a Christian book.
The Gospel Comes With A House Key by Rosaria Butterfield was a book I debated sharing for Sunday Reading, but after I read this book I could not stop thinking about it.
To me, that is a sign of a good book. You don’t have to agree with everything in a book in order for it to be a good book. A book worth reading leaves you thinking. It promotes conversation. It changes you in ways that you didn’t realize it would.
That is this book for me. It is a book that left me thinking about people, love, hospitality, and Christ.
The Gospel Comes With A House Key is about hospitality, but ultimately it is about so much more.
This book is a reminder that all we have is His. Our house, our food, our money, everything we have is because of Him. We don’t own it. He does.
This book is also a reminder that everyone is human. Everyone has problems. Everyone needs grace and love shown to them in a Christ like, God honoring way.
It is also a reminder that family, community, and church are important. It is a vital part of the Christian life.
Butterfield states that ” Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make stranger neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.”
Are we all called to live life like Butterfield and her family does? No. And she isn’t asking you to.
We may not be able to live as Butterfield does, but we all can do something. You don’t have to become a foster parent or friend to a drug addicted neighbor. We aren’t all called to do that. Be we are all called to do something.
When is the last time you invited someone over for dinner? When is the last time you took food to a friend in need of a meal? When is the last time you visited your lonely neighbor? When is the last time you stopped and talked to an elderly person that longs for conversation?
My family and I have had many conversations over the last few years about the lack of hospitality both inside and outside the modern church. It is lacking in most churches and Christian families. The reality is that I can’t remember the last time anyone invited our family over for dinner. It has been years.
That is the sad reality of today’s world. We are too busy. We make excuses.
Our house isn’t big enough.
Our grocery budget is too small.
My life is too busy.
And on and on.
But are we really too busy? Is our house really too small? Can’t we at least come up with a simple inexpensive meal to serve?
In many ways, I think Martha Stewart and Pinterest ruined hospitality. We think hospitality is a home cooked, well plated meal served at a big table in a kitchen made for cooking and entertaining.
But that is not what hospitality should be. Hospitality can happen in a small house. It can happen at large and small tables.
It can happen in a house that hasn’t been vacuumed. It can happen in a house with laundry piled on the beds. It can happen over a pot of beans, breakfast for dinner or a simple plate of store bought cookies.
It can happen at a coffee shop or at a park. It can happen at any time of day.
The reality is I learned hospitality by seeing it lived out when I was growing up. We lived in a small house. We had enough, but not a lot. The grocery budget was often very small. And yet my mom still invited people over.
She might have served beans and homemade bread, but she figured it out. She fixed simple recipes. She didn’t scrub our house from top to bottom. She didn’t care that the dishes were mismatched.
She opened our home as a way to show love to others. She knew it wasn’t about the food or the house. It was about showing love to someone who needed it.
I also saw it lived out in the lives of others around me. The reality is that during my teen years a pastor’s family and an entire church had a huge impact on my life. They showed me love and hospitality in more ways than I will ever be able to repay.
None of them had very much, but what they did have they shared. In both big and small ways they opened their homes and their hearts to others.
Seeing hospitality lived out changed me. But what am I doing to help change others? That is what I came away from The Gospel Comes With A House Key thinking.
What am I doing to make a difference? Am I opening my home and my life to others? Do I worry too much about my to do list and not enough about helping others?
Do I worry too much about my things and my life and not about the lives of others? Do I invite people over both when it is convenient and when it isn’t?
Do I focus too much on what I will serve instead of the needs of who I am serving? Do I use my introverted personality as an excuse way too often?
Those are the questions I keep asking myself? It has made me rethink what I am doing to serve and love others.
My life will never look like Rosaria Butterfield. My hospitality will look different than hers. But I am called to serve in some way. I need to be better at finding that way.
I have heard some criticism of this book and the way the author shares her life and views. When I read this book I didn’t feel like she was criticizing or condemning others. I felt like the book was more a way to examine our own lives to see what we could do differently.
It wasn’t a guide book of what I should do, but a convicting look at the fact that I could do more. This book to me was part memoir, part how to, and part theology.
It is not so much a how-to book. It was a how we do it book. To me, that was an encouragement because nothing about hospitality is about us. It is about serving God and serving others. Learning how others do it should be an encouragement that we can do it too.
Hospitality is about throwing out perfectionism and learning to love others when it is easy and when it is hard. It is about giving when it is convenient and when it is not.
The Gospel Comes With A House Key is about loving others because Christ loves us.
If you are looking for more books on hospitality I also loved Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt.