By: Howard Cole
Home. The thought of this soft word conjures up cozy blankets, familiar faces and a place to finally rest. Have you ever been out and about when a familiar fragrance triggers a memory of home? The nostalgic ache can stop you in your tracks.
The human heart longs for home, a place of deep rootedness in a world full of external storms and the constant internal hurricane of fears that threaten to uproot us. Since more and more people are unaffiliated with a Christian church, what if Christians opened up their homes and eagerly practiced hospitality as a way to share the gospel?
When Rosaria Butterfield wrote The Gospel Comes with a Housekey, she opened an inviting door for the reader to walk through and a comfortable chair in which to sit and think about a theology of hospitality.
Why might you want to read it? If you ache to share Jesus with friends that are far from God in a “radically ordinary” way, as Butterfield puts it, then you’d enjoy learning fresh ways to use hospitality to connect others to Christ.
But let the reader beware. Butterfield doesn’t sugar coat the Scripture’s clear command to practice hospitality (c.f. Hebrews 12:1-3 “do not neglect hospitality”). She writes:
Our cold and hard hearts; our failure to love the stranger; our selfishness with our money, our time, and our home; and our privileged back turned against widows, orphans, prisoners, and refugees mean we are guilty in the face of God of withholding love and Christian witness. . . .(61)
Let the reader also be comforted. Butterfield admits her own shortcomings and sin in a raw, revealing manner. Through the use of several stories, she interweaves key Scriptures to show that hospitality is simpler than we think. But don’t be fooled. Though hospitality is simple, the sacrificial love is costly.
Remember that when Jesus returns, he’ll identify who belongs to his family as those who practiced radically ordinary hospitality:
Matthew 25:34-35 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Where do we get the power to pull off the radically ordinary practice of hospitality? We root our lives in the gospel of grace. Jesus, the hospitality of God, has come to welcome sinners back into the family of God. He became homeless so that we might have a home forever. He was estranged so that we would be called friends of the living God.
How about getting her book and finding a cozy chair in which to relax and receive convicting and comforting truth and grace from her heart to yours?