Where does hospitality begin and end? How far does family stretch? Does the second commandment implicate where we sit in church? Last week, I had the pleasure of talking about gospel hospitality on Christianity Today's Quick to Listen podcast (see here). CT invited me for the interview because the article I had written on extending family beyond family in church had been shared over 9000 times but had also generated a lot of controversy! I engaged with some of the critiques in last week's blog post (see here). But I wanted to share another quick thought.
I recently finished reading Rosaria Butterfield's challenging book The Gospel Comes With A House Key. I have experienced her "radically ordinary hospitality" first-hand. Last August, a mutual friend put me in touch with her prior to a conference I was attending in North Carolina. Not knowing me from Eve, Rosaria invited me to stay at her house. It turns out, her house has an open door policy, which grows out of her and her husand's theological conviction that the gospel is inseparable from radically ordinary hospitality. She is, as they say, the real deal.
I don't align with Rosaria on every jot and tittle (I'll write up a review in a month or so, so will share more reflections then), but I encourage you all to read her book, because her message is both profoundly biblical and quite counter-cultural for Christians in the west today. In many ways, her theology of home, where family is more than family, is the other side of the coin of the theology of church I'm advocating for, where biological family should function as arms spread wide to embrace others, rather than hands folded neatly in our laps.
If you listen closely to the podcast, you'll notice that I invoked the wrong chapter of Matthew when I talked about Jesus's teaching on family (whoops!). But the point still stands. In Matthew 12, Jesus's mother and brothers come to see him while he is preaching and Jesus replies to the man brings the news: "Who is my mother and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hands toward his disciples he says, "Here are my mother and my brothers." (Matthew 12:48-49)
Will we take this seriously in church? Will we act like we are part of a large, messy family that includes singles and couples, young and old, rich and poor, or will we turtle up and keep ourselves to ourselves? The latter is easier. The former is where gospel treasures lie.