The End of Many Books

The Gospel Comes with a House Key

by Rosaria Butterfield

I read her previous book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, and was very edified by her testimony of conversion. This book is about hospitality, which is a mix of testimony of her family’s practice/experience and rebuke to the readers/Christians/the church.

She seems to conflate hospitality as obedience for every believer, and hospitality as a spiritual gift for some (not all) believers. She also walks close to the border of “this is how we do it and SO this is the right way for everyone to do it.” While writing as if to get everyone to be hospitable, which again, is required in at least some sense, she doesn’t quite seem self-aware enough to see that if everyone actually was doing it like her, then she’d have to look for something else to do.

Little comments, like making sure we know she’s cooking organic chicken in her crock pot, and how spiral notebooks on the kitchen table can solve a number of problems, give her preferences the feel of principles, which distract from the larger point.

Of even greater concern is repeated use of the word “violence” to describe what could be sins of omission. For example:

Our lack of genuine hospitality to our neighbors—all of them, including neighbors in the LGBTQ community—explains why counterfeit hospitality seems attractive. Our lack of Christian hospitality is a violent form of neglect for their souls. (Loc. 1037)

It is an act of violence and cruelty to people in your church who routinely have no place to belong, no place to need and be needed, after worship. (Loc. 1678)

And yet I’m glad I read it, especially since the ladies at our church read and talked about it together. But it’s not what I’d recommend for sake of learning hospitality. (Maybe something such as The Art of Neighboring would be a better start.)

2 of 5 stars

Lord's Day Liturgy

Outside Our Comfort-Circles

Hospitality matters because God is generous.

In Genesis 18 Abraham showed grand hospitality to three strangers. He didn’t know it at the beginning, but he was entertaining angels along with the Lord Himself. Abraham quickly prepared and served a great banquet to his unexpected guests. The author of Hebrews urged his readers to be ready to do the same.

Abraham was a man of means, but hospitality is a responsibility for every believer. The apostle Peter commanded his readers to it. He wrote, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). Usually Paul is the one we look to for the “one anothers,” and Paul did exhort the Romans, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

Hospitality is a kindness in welcoming guests and, it used to be, applied to those outside our comfort-circles. Hospitality is a way to love others through generously taking care of them. Invite, greet, serve, repeat. You don’t need to kill the fatted calf, but you do need to kill self-serving pride. You also don’t need to make sure everything is Pinterest perfect in your house. But you do need to clean up any bitterness or begrudging in your heart.

Most of Peter’s readers probably had rationalizations to avoid showing hospitality, such as fear of exposure as Christians or lack of resources, not to mention they were exiles. Yet the imperative stands as an expression of love. We are stewards of God’s varied grace, and we are to imitate Him in giving ourselves for others.

The End of Many Books

The Art of Neighboring

by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon

According to Jesus, the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This book plainly and practically challenges Christian disciples not to take the command metaphorically but actually to, you know, love our neighbors. I’m thankful for that summons alone. I don’t agree with every piece of their suggested approach, but I do appreciate that at least they are urging obedience.

4 of 5 stars