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Book Review: The Gospel Comes with a House Key

From the series:

by Rachel Cain

A Life of Hospitality

In The Gospel Comes with a House Key [1], Rosaria Butterfield invites us into a life of sacrifice and open doors. She has lived it and she surely has stories to tell. Most of the book is written anecdotally, offering a personal glimpse into the way the Butterfield family stewards their home. From the dinner table to the death bed, she paints a picture of a life lived in selflessness for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. But, she won’t let you get away with thinking she is the perfect housewife because, of course, that is not the point. The thing to admire about Rosaria is neither her recipes nor decoration skill.  It’s not even her willingness to serve – she admits she’s acted selfishly plenty times in her life. Instead, the thing to admire about Rosaria is her Shepherd. In many ways, this book is as much about evangelism as it is about hospitality. For Rosaria, these things are linked very closely. The Lord uses her rice and beans dinners, crowded family room, and full guest rooms to bring lost people to hope in Him. God has created something special in hospitality. Something that “meets people as strangers and makes them neighbors; it meets neighbors and makes them family” (172).  

Counseling Applications

The Gospel Comes with a House Key may not seem like a counseling book at first glance, but in truth, Rosaria offers a handbook for the first of the 8 I’s of counseling – involvement. In Wayne Mack’s discussion of involvement, he writes “our impact and influence in people’s lives is usually related to their perception of us” citing Jesus and Paul as examples of compassionate involvement.[2] With the help of Rosaria’s story telling, I was lead to consider the ways I create involvement in my counseling relationships. Do I offer genuine, loving care to my counselees? Am I protecting my own time and space rather than listening to a struggling sister over a cup of coffee? Am I offering one hour a week of counseling rather than offering life-on-life discipleship? As I wrestle with these questions, Rosaria offers both Scriptural encouragement and practical help.

Conclusion

While Rosaria’s book is certainly radical and challenging to the everyday Christian, the most radical thing about it is how ordinary hospitality can become. Hospitality is found in the day-to-day, nitty-gritty of life, not in the ornate feasts and flawless décor. In the ordinary, God is willing and able to do the extraordinary work of salvation and sanctification.

[1] Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018).

[2] John MacArthur, Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2011), 102.