Saturday, April 28, 2018

Book Review: "The Gospel Comes with a House Key" by Rosaria Butterfield

The Gospel Comes with a House KeyThe Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In The Gospel Comes With a House Key Rosaria Butterfield beckons the Church to practice what she calls, “radically ordinary hospitality,” and she and her husband Kent lead the way.

The potency of Butterfield’s book comes from her storytelling. She obviously subscribes to the maxim, “Show, don’t tell,” and does a masterful job at it. Her true life stories of biblical hospitality brim with the raw grace and beautiful mess that is the gospel at work in up-close-and-personal ministry. This is hospitality as generosity, not entertainment. Giving yourself, your resources, your time, your home.

In between the showing, Butterfield does do some telling. She teaches how practicing hospitality has always been a biblical priority (Romans 12:13, 16:23, 1 Tim 5:10, 1 Peter 4:9, 3 John 1:8). But she also explains how important it is now in our “post-Christian” moment in American history, showing Christianity to real, or at least plausible. And she gives many practical suggestions of how to make it happen.

But it’s mostly the stories that do the work. The hospitality that led to Butterfield’s own conversion to Christ. The hospitality they are attempting to show their neighbors. The (apparent) failures. The triumphs. The ongoing sagas. All of the cost and all of the drama. But also all of the (often quiet) glory. I got lost a few times in the early chapters, but regularly had tears from the midpoint to the end. Her writing is salty, in the best sense of the word, and she picks a few fights along the way–all in the name of getting us all going in the right direction.

Butterfield is careful to repeat that her family is not the one-size-fits-all template of hospitality, but at the same time, she is definitely trying to be an example. And she does think that every Christian ought to be practicing hospitality in their own way. She concludes, “That is the nuts and bolts of it, yes? Starting with you and me and our open door and our dinner table and our house key poised for the giving. This is not complex. Radically ordinary, daily hospitality is not PhD Christianity. The gospel coming with a house key is ABC Christianity. Radically ordinary and daily hospitality is the basic building block for vital Christian living. Start anywhere. But do start.”

Hint: Don’t read it if you want to stay the way you are.

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