Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. Enjoy!
Hospitality is not my gift.
I’m not a good cook, and I don’t enjoy cleaning even the tiniest little bit.
I long believed that if hospitality isn’t my leading gift, then I don’t have to exercise it (mostly because it gave me the false assurance of a worthy excuse).
Rosaria Butterfield has a way of leaving you without excuse in her book The Gospel Comes with a House Key. This book has quickly sprinted to my top five books read in the last few years and has given my hospitality-challenged self hope for seeing God do miraculous work in my neighborhood through simply showing up and opening my doors for others. The book is deeply convicting, not because it heaps shame upon you for not showing others Jesus’ love through hospitality, but because it reminds you of the miraculous hospitality you’ve been shown, that Jesus would sacrifice for you and go to prepare a place for you.
Rosaria’s hospitality is a slow, open one. It’s an open door for any neighbor at any time, an intentional scheduling of tasks to leave more room for welcoming neighbors in, and a consistent intentional investment in the lives of those around you. It changes the way you structure a day, the number of things you put on a to-do list, and even what you buy for groceries. Christian hospitality is the one thousand little conversations and interactions that show you care, rather than a gospel blitzing that is absent from relationship. Rosaria says, “Christian hospitality cares for the things our neighbors care about,” and isn’t that what we all want—to know someone else cares for us and cares about what concerns us?
Rosaria has lived what she teaches in this book for decades, caring for neighbors in a way that even made others angry when her neighbor’s home was quarantined because of Meth production and Rosaria and her family had been kind to the residents of the home. She even took in this neighbor’s dog, and her children write to the neighbor while he serves his time in prison. Yet it’s this story that is so moving. Her neighbor came to know Jesus because of their family’s love for him. They didn’t share the gospel with him over and over again through their words but through their hospitality. Rosaria says, “We live in a post-Christian world that is sick and tired of hearing from Christians. But who could argue with mercy-driven hospitality?”
Rosaria continues when she writes, “Radically ordinary hospitality is never convenient. A good question to ask yourself: What is the difference between inconvenient and impossible?” A good question, indeed.
Our hospitality speaks louder than our words ever could. It brings a street credibility that our words can’t live up to apart from this kind of visible fruit. We can’t save anyone, but we can certainly show up. We can unlock our doors and eat dinner in the front yard. We can live the theology we teach, or we can be like Judas, knowing the Truth and able to talk the talk, but far from faithful.
Let us be radically hospitable people to those God has placed around us. You are in your neighborhood, on your street, and in your town for a purpose. It is not by accident. And God can do miraculous things through simple, radical hospitality.
Mary Wiley lives with her husband John and their two preschoolers, and they attend and serve at Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN. She works as the women’s book marketing strategist for B&H Publishing Group and loves all the stereotypical publishing things: words, books, paper, and coffee. She hosts the Questions Kids Ask podcast, helping parents understand how to answer their kids’ tough theological questions. She also has an upcoming resource centered on understanding the essential truths of our faith and how they apply to our everyday lives called Everyday Theology (Feb 2020). Connect with Mary at www.marycwiley.com or @marycwiley on social media.