In our “post-truth” society, living out the Gospel virtually requires Christians to form a sort of new “counter-culture.” Rosaria Butterfield shows how realizing that kind of culture looks not like street protests, but more like a pot of soup simmering in your kitchen.
Who should read this?
Judging by the full title of the book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World, one might think that this book is targeted at a narrow segment of the church. What Rosaria Butterfield shows, however, is that the kind of radical hospitality that her book describes is the calling of every Christian: men and women, young or old, married or single. This is not a book exclusively for stay-at-home moms, nor is it a book meant only for women (although it has much to say to Christian women). This book is for the church – the family to which all Christians belong.
Lists of spiritual gifts often include “hospitality” as a gift or category of gifts. Undoubtedly there are those whose personalities are more inclined toward a certain kind of hospitality; we can even say with confidence that God made them that way. This book shows, however, that hospitality is not merely a gift for some Christians, but an essential part of life for all Christians.
Butterfield’s former work as a university professor is evident in her style of writing, but even for all the skill with which she can turn a phrase, this book always seems to remain on the level of a heartfelt conversation in a friend’s living room. Each of the book’s ten chapters focuses on a different aspect of hospitality. Like turning a diamond to catch light from a different angle, Butterfield’s stories from her own life and the lives of her neighbors show the reader just how multi-faceted the topic of hospitality is.
The preface makes clear the author’s motivation for writing the book. Her prayer is that the book will help the reader see how God can use his or her “home, apartment, dorm room, front yard, community gymnasium, or garden for the purpose of making strangers into neighbors and neighbors into family.” The kind of regular, intentional fellowship urged by this book will, she hopes, grow the reader in union with Christ so that he or she “would no longer be that Christian with a pit of empty dreams competing madly with other reigning idols, wondering if this is all there is to the Christian life.” (p.14)
For those who are already familiar with Rosaria Butterfield it probably comes as no surprise that she has written a book like this one. Table fellowship in a Christian home played an integral role in her conversion, the chronicles of which she documents more fully in her first book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Parts of that story reappear here, and the book is full of stories of her life, family, friends, and neighbors.
The theme that drives the book – the main idea connecting what otherwise would seem like unrelated anecdotes – radically ordinary hospitality “brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.” (p. 32) Butterfield goes on to show just some of the many different ways that the daily discipline of hospitality does those things.
Read the rest here.