I am working my way through Rosaria Butterfield’s The Gospel Comes With A House Key, and it’s deeply inspiring (and convicting).
Culturally, hospitality is often defined solely by Martha Stewart-guided hosting or HGTV-inspired decor, but refreshingly, biblical hospitality is far deeper.
Butterfield’s theme throughout her book is ‘radically ordinary hospitality,’ a new vision to see your home as something that terminates on you and your desires, but “as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom.”
Hospitality is making others feel like they matter. Hospitality is someone walking out your door feeling more loved and heard and cared for than when they walked in.
Hospitality, an arm of John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Like many other things in my life, this intention is one that will continually have room to expand and deepen. I’ll never arrive at being spectacular at hospitality, because there will always be someone I don’t know, a chance to listen to a friend or stranger, people to love well, and one of my personal favorites, we will always need to eat.
Hospitality is an adventure of life I haven’t taken by the horns, though it’s available to me every day.
When radically ordinary hospitality is lived out, members of God’s household are told that they are not alone in their struggles or their joys.
My husband sometimes (lovingly) confronts me with this: “sounds like you have a lot of Truth in your brain, maybe you should get some through the rest of your body.”
I liken this to hospitality, because oftentimes Christianity can be reduced to only Bible-knowledge, only prayer, only church attendance. These are beautiful gifts and of God and elements of faith. But, if I miss out applying Bible knowledge, if I do not extend prayer-as-love to everyone I encounter, if I go to church but never commune with humanity different than me, I miss out greatly.
I LOVE this line by Rosaria: “We believe that the blood of Christ is thicker than the blood of water. Daily hospitality, gathering church and neighbors, is a daily grace.”
And this: “Since we are approaching the end of all things, be intentional, purposeful, and self-controlled so that you can be given to prayer. Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins. Be compassionate to foreigners without complaining. Every believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another as faithful stewards of the many-colored tapestry of God’s grace. For example, if you have a speaking gift, speak as though God were speaking his words through you. If you have the gift of serving, do it passionately with the strength God gives you, so that in everything God alone will be glorified through Jesus Christ. For to him belong the power and the glory forever throughout all ages! Amen.” 1 Peter 4:7-11 TPT
I can’t save anyone. There is only one Savior. All I can do is show up in the way He uniquely gifted me to operate and be. Show up for the opportunity to connect someone’s hurt to God’s love. Show up for the chance to provide a safe place for someone to encounter Jesus. Show up for the wonder of hearing how God has worked faithfully in another’s life. Show up for the amazing chance to love Jesus died for. Show up for the chance to change someone’s perspective on a difficult situation by sharing Scripture. Show up in openness and honesty of my own sin and struggle. Show up in boldness to ask questions. Show up in the areas where we differ or disagree, and represent grace. Show up in transparency to reveal all God is doing within our walls. All I can do is show up for people, in even the smallest of ways, and trust the Holy Spirit.
Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.
For those of us who don’t feel champion-like at hospitality, where can we start? Here’s a few tangibles rolling around in my brain…
Find your specialty. Having only ever lived where your neighbors were 100 yards away, I was psyched when J and I purchased our home. We soon made friends with neighbors surrounding us. I help teach a girls’ class at our church, and I love it. Middle school is my jam, so you can guess how much I enjoyed getting to know the two girls across the street. Spending time with them is fun and natural for me. I’ve cheered at sporting events and we decorated Christmas cookies and watched USA gymnastics. Discover your passions and invite people into them. Baking? Practice cookie recipes and deliver them. Grilling? Summer driveway dinner stop. Saturday errands? Pick up a friend on the way.
Expand hospitality from a clean home and 2 course meal. This has been an evolving perspective for me. I’m learning it is less about how I’m perceived and more about the soul coming through the door. It’s less about an occasion and more about the warmth and peace in the room. It is asking helpful questions. It is extending grace. It is listening without interrupting. We can do those things no matter where we are. I love the idea of hospitality as a daily grace and something to be intentional about.
God calls us to practice hospitality as a daily way of life, not as an occasional activity when time and finance allow. Radically ordinary hospitality means this: God promises to put the lonely in families (Ps. 68: 6), and he intends to use your house as living proof.
Seek and pray. Ask God for opportunities for genuine hospitality. Seek His heart for the person or people soon to be in your midst. Ask Him for confidence to invite the neighbor for dinner or the new friend to run errands with you. Jot notes immediately after someone leaves your company, so you can specifically pray for and follow up with them later. Seek out the small moments to give of yourself for someone else. “In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3–4)
Change your perspective. May I stop seeing those with difference opinions or beliefs as alien to me. May I stop assuming I know all the answers. May I not be ashamed or fearful to share my shortcomings, to invite someone into my world, to share my death-to-life story. May I ask for His kind of love, His kind of eyes, His kind of care. May I rise above thinking about how I’m being perceived, and camp out in the desire that others would meet Jesus when they meet me. May I stop being intimidated by those who want nothing to do with God, but be ruthless in prayer and love and Truth-telling.
The call of God to not only hone our hospitality skills, because it’s a means of kindness, but to tend and cultivate generous hearts, as a means of overflowing Christ is humbling and inspiring.
And we believe that radically ordinary hospitality depends on the family of God knowing where to gather, knowing how to be organic and spontaneous with Scripture and open arms. And we do it because the purpose of radically ordinary hospitality is to take the hand of a stranger and put it in the hand of the Savior, to bridge hostile worlds, and to add to the family of God.
Lord, let it be said of us.
(Ps – Photo from our recent trip to Durango, Colorado to visit family. Here we are enjoying a picnic halfway up a mountain.)