“The Gospel Comes with a House Key”- A Book Review & Call to Radically Ordinary Hospitality

Morning by Morning was one of the first ministries to publish my writing. They’re no longer an active site, so I’m excited to share some of my pieces here in my own space.

The command to show hospitality is clear, yet often overlooked, in Scripture (Romans 12:13). The word “hospitality” can scare us. We hear it and feel pressure. We imagine a Pinterest-perfect home, food that tastes as if a five-star chef cooked it, and the nicest china to serve the food on. These images best describe entertaining, not necessarily hospitality. Scripture never mentions a spotless home. Scripture simply commands us to “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). In The Gospel Comes with a House Key, Rosaria Butterfield beautifully shares what gospel-centered hospitality actually is and gives everyday examples from her life that we could incorporate into our own.

Rosaria coins the term “radically ordinary hospitality” to define the hospitality to which Christ calls us. It’s a beautiful paradox. She says it’s, “using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God.” The hospitality we’re called to is radical because it means sacrificing money, time, and comforts. It’s also ordinary because it’s simply loving and serving the people around us, not worrying about impressing them. In this, The Gospel Comes with a House Key simultaneously encouraged and challenged me. I was encouraged to read of the ordinary ways we can show hospitality, as simple as picking up groceries for a neighbor while we’re already at the store. It can also be getting creative with table settings; Rosaria shares even their trampoline is used as a table for the children. I felt freedom in practicing hospitality after reading her examples. People simply want to feel loved and welcomed, and we can love people for the glory of God with both paper plates or fancy china. The Lord also used this resource to deeply challenge me, because the truth is, I don’t practice radically ordinary hospitality as he calls me to. Gospel-centered hospitality takes sacrifice and putting others’ needs before my own, and honestly, that’s often easier said than done. Rosaria points us to our perfect example, Jesus, who lovingly opened his arms to sinners and those others would look down on. Rosaria challenges, “Do Christian people practice Christian hospitality in regular, ordinary, consistent ways? Or do we think our homes too precious for criminals and outcasts? Our homes are not our castles. Indeed, they are not even ours.”

Why does the gospel come with a house key? Because the Father loves us despite our baggage and sin, and in Christ, he gives us a seat at his table. The least we can do in return is open up our homes and hearts and give a seat at our table to others who need the good news of the gospel. Rosaria tells us the lost world is tired of hearing from Christians. Rightfully so, she begs the question of who can argue with mercy-driven hospitality? We can shout from the rooftops of our social media accounts and pass out tracts at restaurants all we want, but wouldn’t inviting someone into our homes for a meal or coffee or delivering a meal during a hard time speak volumes? Oh, what gospel conversations we could have around our tables if we truly used them to make people feel loved and welcomed!

Not only does Rosaria share biblical truths about radically ordinary hospitality for the lost, but also within our own Christian communities. On snow days when churches are closed, our homes can become makeshift worship centers where we gather to read the Word, sing praises, and sled down hills of snow. Since radically ordinary hospitality is also gritty and messy, our tables must be places where we confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) and see repentance bear its fruit. Rosaria says radically ordinary hospitality “demands forgiveness before any of us is ready to cough it up,” but what a beautiful picture of the gospel, forgiving as Christ forgave us, seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:21-22).

Friends, we need to ditch the lies that our homes have to be perfectly decorated in order to show hospitality. We need to lay aside our excuses and fears and open our doors and our hearts. This book might reveal the idols in our hearts where we’re being hoarders with what God gave us instead of givers. There are people who need the love of Christ shown to them in radically ordinary ways: “Radically ordinary hospitality sees our Christian homes as hospitals and incubators. We gather the spiritually poor, crippled, blind, and broken because we have been there- and not so long ago”. 

This book is one of the best resources I’ve encountered that beautifully teaches how we’re to live out the command in Scripture to be hospitable. The truths are biblical and the doctrine is sound. May we use this resource to spur us on in the good work of the radically ordinary hospitality that Christ calls us to.

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