We all know the world has been changing right under our feet. I have been thinking that the church may then need to consider changing the way we engage with the world. What used to connect us to people may no longer work. For example, the days of assuming people share a fundamental belief that God exists are over. The days of having some sort of shared code of morality with our neighbor and a common language about the things of God have virtually disappeared. These reasons are why the days of sharing about Jesus in one conversation and expecting a life-changing decision ranks right up there with the chances of being struck by lightning.
The only avenue for the gospel is quickly becoming authentic relationship.
That’s why when I saw this book, I could not order it fast enough. The Gospel Comes with a House Key felt like I took a good long walk with a friend, the kind of walk that provides the time to enjoy someone’s company and take in everything they are saying. Rosaria comes alongside the reader and kindly and clearly walks through the multi-layered process of how to love a neighbor in this complicated society of ours. How does a relationship evolve from casual introductions while walking dogs to that same neighbor eventually crossing over the threshold and joining the family to eat a meal and linger long in conversation? Rosaria show us how with compelling, victorious stories that underline what God does when we give Him room to work.
Rosaria writes as if weaving a tapestry.
Threads of stories, straight talk and practical how-to tips come and go as naturally as topics leave and return within conversations between friends. For example, she starts on page one immersing the reader into a compelling, descriptive story, then leaves the story, only to have it appear again later to continue its telling. Turns out, the story weaves throughout the entire book and its ending is unbelievably satisfying, encouraging and convicting.
In addition, throughout the pages, Rosaria keeps answering the question, “Where in the Bible does God say we are to be living like this with our neighbors?” Such theologies are introduced as seamlessly as her stories without making the book feel like a seminary textbook. (No wonder this is the #1 best seller in Ethics in Christian Theology). It’s very clear this isn’t a book about a woman’s opinion about hospitality.
Hospitality is an idea created by God for the church.
By the time I read to the very last word of the Acknowledgements, I had been assured of the hope that nothing we do for our neighbors is wasted in the grand story God has for each of person involved, particularly if we don’t give up praying, serving as opportunity arises, surrendering our reputations of association, and keeping our children in God’s hands, not our own.
Nothing we do for our neighbors is wasted in the grand story God has for each person involved.
As much as I appreciate the book for showing me how to love my neighbor, what I love most about Rosaria is her repentant heart. She is painfully aware of her own sin, repenting of it daily, as we all should be. Therefore, she does not see any distance between herself and any other image bearer of a holy God who also needs Jesus as much as she did. This fundamental biblical perspective allows her to draw near to all with the message of Jesus. He is all she has to offer. This is true for all of us, but Rosaria knows it.
Her heart will stun you into making sure you look in the mirror at your own heart.
Rosaria is gutsy, brave, repentant and honest, and she practices radical hospitality with her neighbors daily. If you stare at verses like, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:31) and don’t know how to live that verse out on a practical level, or if you stare at this incredibly changed world and no longer have the skill set to engage with it, this is the next book to read.
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