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Sharing the Gospel Through Hospitality (Part 1 of 2)

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Sharing the Gospel Through Hospitality (Part 1 of 2)

Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield challenges listeners to share God's love by opening their home to strangers, neighbors, and anyone in need, in a discussion based on her book The Gospel Comes With a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World. (Part 1 of 2)

The Gospel Comes With a House Key

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The Gospel Comes With a House Key

Receive Rosaria Butterfield's book The Gospel Comes With a House Key for your donation of any amount!

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Episode Summary

Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield challenges listeners to share God's love by opening their home to strangers, neighbors, and anyone in need, in a discussion based on her book The Gospel Comes With a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World. (Part 1 of 2)

Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Rosaria Butterfield: That practically means you, Christian, share the Gospel with a house key. That practically means you, Christian, share the Gospel with a – with an invitation that, “Hey, you know what? Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving – my house. There’s no question about where you’re going to spend your birthday. You’re my brother. You’re part of a family.” And the Christian community exists sometimes on what I like to call a ‘starvation diet of community.’

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Well, that insight about the importance of community comes from Dr. Rosaria Butterfield. And she believes that many Christian families today are missing a powerful, life-changing ministry opportunity. You’ll hear more on today’s episode of Focus on the Family, as she challenges us to look at our preconceived notions of what hospitality is and, uh, remind us, as well, of God’s calling in our lives to be more open to others. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I have so much respect for Rosaria Butterfield. She’s always been a seeker of truth, which is what draws, I think, my heart. I want to be that type of person, too. What is true? Not what is in front of me that may be taking me away from truth. And I simply appreciate that, um, desire that she has in her heart.

Several years ago, we shared Rosaria’s dramatic testimony, which she refers to as her ‘train wreck conversion.’ In the late ‘90s, she was professor of English and queer theory at Syracuse University in New York. She was living proudly as a lesbian and feminist. And she was an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights. Uh, Rosaria had abandoned the faith of her childhood and had little or no interest in God, the Bible or Christians, whom she considered to be the enemy.

Uh, but then God orchestrated something impossible. You know, when you think about it, no one is beyond the reach of God. I have said that so many times on this broadcast. Um, never think that way because it limits what God can do through you. Rosaria was, uh, befriended by a Christian couple, Ken and Floy Smith, who offered her the hospitality of their home. And that really caught her attention. That’s what cracked her heart open. And over time, that simple act changed everything.

John: And as you said, Jim, Dr. Butterfield has been on this broadcast a couple of times, one of our most popular broadcast guests whenever she’s on. She’s an author, speaker, a pastor’s wife, and a homeschooling mom. And of the books she’s written, today we’re gonna really zero in on this one, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World.

Body:

Jim: Rosaria, welcome back to Focus on the Family.

Rosaria: Oh, thank you so much. It’s always an honor and privilege to be here with you.

Jim: It’s just good to see you. My heart…

Rosaria: It’s good to see you, too.

Jim: …Is leaping inside because it’s so much fun.

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: I just love the way you think and what God has done with your life.

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: Um, and what a background. And we’re not gonna cover all that ground.

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: We’re getting into a new direction today, but I so appreciate what the hand of God has done in you…

Rosaria: Amen.

Jim: …In your husband, in your family.

Rosaria: Praise God.

Jim: It’s a powerful testimony. In fact, if the listeners missed it, you can get it through Focus on the Family…

John: We’ll link over to the download, yes.

Jim: …Because it is something that you should share with friends. It’s one of those, uh, amazing stories of God’s work in someone’s life. Help us understand why you are so passionate about hospitality. You know, we read that in Scripture, and we think, “Yeah, be kind, be joyful, be hospitable, okay.” And we keep moving.

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: But it is the…

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: …Key to unlocking the heart of…

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: …Especially nonbelievers.

Rosaria: It is. And it’s also connected to what it means to be a radically converted person in this post-Christian world.

Jim: Why?

Rosaria: Here’s why – when I share with people what Ken and Floy Smith did for me in my conversion process – now, we – I don’t believe that I’m discipled into conversion. I don’t believe that, you know, it was a casserole that brought me to faith. It was – it was the spirit of God…

Jim: Yeah, this is love.

Rosaria: …Which is a supernatural – you know, the power of heaven coming down to save a sinner like me. But the highway that that traveled on was Ken and Floy Smith’s tireless, Christian hospitality. I was in their home at least weekly for two years. And while in their home, I would argue with them. And after I would argue with them, I would go back to campus where I was a professor at Syracuse, and I would demean them. I would mock them. And I would go back the next week and do it again.

Jim: Why did you say yes? I mean, what…

Rosaria: Well, because I was doing research on a book for the religious right. And I thought of Ken Smith is my unpaid research assistant – it was…

Jim: You could, uh…

Rosaria: Yeah. No, I just…

Jim: So this came with a little bit of an undercurrent?

Rosaria: Oh, yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Rosaria: No, an agenda.

Jim: Okay.

Rosaria: I mean, if I thought evangelical Christians had an agenda, believe me, as a gay rights activist, I had a bigger one, in my opinion.

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: And I thought I had the winning one.

Jim: So you said yes. You go to the home.

Rosaria: I said yes. And…

Jim: And boom.

Rosaria: And week after week, it’s the sort of – it’s the same thing. Lots of people come in. Good food, simple food – sort of like how I cook – simple food, but plenty of it. People come in. They talk. Then at a certain point, you know, the Bible’s open, the psalter’s open. They sing the Psalms exclusively – four-part harmony. The aesthetic beauty of the Psalms was compelling to me. And the words, quite frankly, were disgusting. I don’t know what else to say.

Jim: To you at the time, right.

Rosaria: To me at the time, absolutely. And after years and years of that – and I talk about this elsewhere – something happened. The Bible got to be bigger inside me than I. And that’s what changed. And when I came to Christ, I did not stop feeling like a lesbian, but I knew Jesus was who He said He was.

Jim: Yeah. And the challenge there is this tension you had to feel…

Rosaria: Yes.

Jim: …Between your life and what it was…

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: …Then as a sinner not drawing – or knowing God…

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: …And then this odd attraction…

Rosaria: Yes.

Jim: …With this couple…

Rosaria: Yeah, very odd…

Jim: Yeah.

Rosaria: …Disarmingly odd…

Jim: How long did that process…

Rosaria: …Attraction.

Jim: …Take before you said, “Lord, I get it”?

Rosaria: Two years.

Jim: It was two years?

Rosaria: It was two years.

Jim: Let me just turn to listeners again because this is critical. Think of somebody in your life that you think is so beyond God’s reach they could never become a Christian, and start praying for them. Start inviting them over, right? I mean, that’s the thing.

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: Why do we stumble with that simple idea?

Rosaria: Well, because I think the spiritual warfare that we experience is disarming to us, and it’s unusual. And instead, my invitation is for Christians to just – just relax and step into the conflict.

But I think that we want it to be nice. We want to have a nice dinner. We want the table settings to match. We don’t want the cat to have a hairball as soon as the guests come in. You know, we want – and we certainly don’t want our guests to be potentially offended. We don’t want our guests to offend us. We have lots of anxiety. And this is spiritual warfare. And instead, I think what we need to do is what Ken and Floy Smith did. They said, “You know what? If we’re going to be agents of grace, then we need to get close enough to this stranger to put the hand of the stranger into the hand of the Savior. And you know what? Somebody here is going to get hurt.”

Jim: Yeah.

Rosaria: “May God be given all the glory.”

Jim: Yeah. And – and I – I love the idea that you’re – um, what’s the right way to say this? You’re deconstructing the complexity…

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: …Of doing something like this.

Rosaria: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: It doesn’t have to be something huge.

Rosaria: And this doesn’t happen in la-la land. Guess what?

Jim: Right!

Rosaria: Guess what? You know, 20 years ago, people could sit together at the same table even though they voted differently. Today we’re told that’s impossible. A good question is why? And those are some of the things that I try to unpack in this book and some of the practices that I think are necessary. But here’s what I know – as I’ve shared with people my testimony, and I share with you what Ken and Floy Smith did for me, I have so many people just walk away rich, young ruler-style.

Jim: Mm.

Rosaria: And they say, “Wow, they’re super Christians. I could never do that.” And I’m here to say I think we all – I don’t think anybody’s called to be a ‘super Christian.’ But I think we’re all to set our boundaries a little differently.

Jim: Yeah.

Rosaria: In the past, we’ve set them according to our checkbook and according to our calendar. In a post-Christian world, we’re called to set them according to the blood of Christ. Ken and Floy Smith were just a little ahead of the game.

Jim: Yeah, but it’s where we should all be.

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s why I like the subtitle of your book, which is “Radically Ordinary Hospitality.” Describe what that looks like day to day.

Rosaria: Yeah. Well, day to day, it means two things. First of all, conceptually, it means always looking at the objective of the Christian life – the purpose – your purpose for being here. And that is to seek strangers – and seek them you must, they don’t actually fall from the sky – to seek strangers and make them neighbors and embrace neighbors, praying that God would make them family of God.

So that’s, conceptually, the journey. And once you cross those thresholds, everything changes. When you cross the threshold between stranger and neighbor, you never go back to stranger. The bridge is burned down. You can’t go back there. And when you cross the bridge from neighbor to family of God, you can’t go back either.

Jim: Yeah.

Rosaria: And so that’s conceptually what it means. And what it means practically is that for the last 17 years of marriage, Kent and I have just done this thing that we thought was normal. But we, you know, we are in the world, so we know that Christians don’t think it is.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: And so we – we sort of – so think of this book as our coming out party, if you will. Um, so for – when Kent and I got married, we were the only believers in our extended families. That means that we were lonely people.

Jim: Yeah.

Rosaria: And our commitment to family of God meant that – that we believed that our home was a place where a family of God gathers, not by invitation only, but organically and regularly. So we started practicing daily hospitality with our family of God from the very beginning of our marriage. One of the nice, little, old ladies in the church had bought us one of those little guest books that you fill out. Well, after four months of marriage, we had filled it up entirely. And we looked at each other and said, “We’re gonna throw this sucker away…”

Jim: Get a new one!

Rosaria: “…And we’re” – no! “We’re never gonna get a new one because we’re gonna have God keep these tallies…”

Jim: Oh, wow.

Rosaria: “…Because there’s something about keeping these tallies that is going to spook us.”

Jim: Hm.

Rosaria: Because we were noticing then a crisis of loneliness in the church.

John: Hm.

Rosaria: And you know, part of how the post-Christian world became a post-Christian world is the secular world capitalized on some real sin issues in our church. I’m not talking right now about sexuality.

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: I’m talking about cold hearts.

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: I’m talking about the willingness to allow crushing loneliness to reside in the hearts of the people who are our fellow shoulder-rubbers in the pews.

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: And why? Well, because it was a sin that just went under the radar. We started to feel that our time was our own, that our homes were our castles and that really the scriptural command that the Gospel would come with a hundredfold, practical, nurturing connections within the family of God – and that’s in Mark, chapter 10 – we might get to that in this conversation – we started to see that as somebody else’s business. We started to prefer programs over relationships.

Jim: Hm.

Rosaria: And we looked at the singles in our church as people who needed to be fixed or fixed up.

Jim: Yeah.

Rosaria: And that’s – those are sins that we are revisiting in this post-Christian world.

Jim: Well, and I so appreciate that – the way we started the program, that heart for truth and understanding. And I think that’s true. When we really dissect where we’re at, we’re in a cold place. We have automatic garage door openers. I would assume that, like me, I know some of our neighbors. I don’t know all our neighbors. And even when I’m in, you know, Christian company, many people don’t know any neighbor. And I – I think that’s an indication of what you’re talking about – this – uh, you know, it sounds harsh, but that cold-heartedness…

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: …That we don’t really care. The other thing is just with modernity, you have so many things pulling at your time. Uh, you know, we’re busy people, and we make excuses…

Rosaria: Yes.

Jim: …That we’re busy people…

Rosaria: Yes.

Jim: …And therefore, we don’t have time for hospitality and getting to know the people around us. And that…

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: …That’s really an error, isn’t it? Because…

Rosaria: Yes, it is.

Jim: …Um – an old book – I think Paul Tripp is the author – Instruments in the Hands of God.

Rosaria: Love that book.

Jim: There’s a line in there that caught me for today’s program and that is our relationships belong to God.

Rosaria: Mmhmm. That’s right.

Jim: Think of that – that our relationships belong to God. And it’s how we nurture them and how we steward them…

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: …That is important to Him…

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: …The Heavenly Father. When you start looking at it from that perspective, wow…

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: …That’s a lot of responsibility.

Rosaria: Right. Absolutely. And I would say in addition to modernity creating a kind of self-absorption, the idea that somehow I’m really busy and that I’m really…

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: I’m guilty of that!

Rosaria: …I’m really busy doing important things, and maybe I should have a blog in my own name. I mean, can I just tell you that I think the Puritans would call that sin?

Jim: Mm.

Rosaria: I really do. And maybe you all have blogs in your names, and so you’re just kind of like, “Ah, Rosaria, I can’t believe you nailed me,” but…

Jim: Well, I happen to have a blog.

(LAUGHTER)

John: I’m going to plead the Fifth. I never do anything with it, but I have one, yeah.

Jim: But speak to our hearts.

Rosaria: But…

Jim: Tell us…

John: And we’re open, yeah.

Rosaria: Here’s the deal, I mean, in modernity, the idea was the, um, the self-autonomous individual finding meaning in nothing but himself.

Jim: That’s the American creed.

Rosaria: But now we’re at even a more dangerous place because we’ve moved from modernity to post-modernity. And we are now in a place where we have the quote, unquote, “intersectional person” finding purpose and meaning in nothing but victimhood.

Jim: Yeah, that’s so true.

Rosaria: And, you know, that is damaging in a different way. But that’s what makes it impossible today or seemingly impossible. I argue, in the book, it’s not impossible. You just have to have enough hutzpah to…

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: I like that.

Rosaria: …To move on with that. But often Christians feel that, “How can I talk to my neighbors who identify as lesbian when everything I say is hate speech?” Well, here’s how: you make sure that your relationship with that person is stronger than the words you’re gonna use. And how do you do that? Well, get off Facebook, stop thinking that anybody really cares what you have to say on Twitter…

(LAUGHTER)

Rosaria: …And peel some potatoes, put on a pot of coffee…

Jim: Invite them over.

Rosaria: …And invite ‘em over. And you know what? It’s not efficient. We’re talking about one person at a time.

Jim: Yeah. It’s tough, but you’re really hitting it. I want to highlight some of the critics that you’ve had in our church. I mean…

Rosaria: Hm.

Jim: …Because I think that’s an important place to go, and that – that will be something that you face.

Rosaria: Sure. Absolutely.

Jim: Um, People that say, um, you know, “I just don’t have people over.” Maybe their personalities are more introverted. Speak to the temperament…

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: …Issue, too…

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: …Because this is hard to do for some people that aren’t bent toward relationship in that way.

Rosaria: Right. Right. And I would say, too, that everybody doesn’t have to do this the same way, all right. So there are lots of things that you can do, and if you do what you do, and you open your arms a little wider, you’re going to find that you have a niche that I don’t have.

Jim: Hm.

Rosaria: And so there are various things. When it comes to seeking the stranger, one of the best things you could do is go get home studied. You know what? The welfare state has cornered the market on strangers. And if a couple of families in the church do it together, that means that you all can support another family in crisis. Now, all that means is that you have access to people in need. It doesn’t mean you have to do anything. There are seasons of life when you can’t. If you’re a mom with small children – and let’s face it, 7 o’clock is not the time you’re having dinner with friends. That’s bath time.

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: Um, is there a time during the day that you can open your home to other moms with small children but make it explicitly Gospel-focused? I think this is the challenge – Christians need to do what you do but realize that the Gospel’s not gonna transmute by osmosis. So if you’re having, you know, lunch with people, how are you gonna move from egg salad to eternity? Well, figure that out!

Jim: Ask good questions.

Rosaria: Ask good questions. But I’ll tell you, in our house, it helps to have a routine already established.

John: Hm. Dr. Rosaria Butterfield is our guest on Focus on the Family” And, uh, we’re talking about her book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key. And you can get copies of that, a CD, or a free download of our conversation at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

And I want to ask you about that because earlier you said, you know, if Christians have an agenda, you had an agenda. All right…

Rosaria: I did.

Jim: …So go back to me. I’m inviting a neighbor over for coffee.

Rosaria: Mmhmm.

Jim: Um, I feel like I have to turn it to Jesus right now.

Rosaria: Yeah. And so here’s what I would say, too – that’s a good – that’s a great question. One of the reasons that we have found making open invitations to our neighbors so useful, I mean, one is I talk in the book about a crisis in our neighborhood that – that kind of conjured that up. But it became so useful to just say, “Thursday night is neighbor night. Thursday night is soup and prayer. I put on pots of soup at 6:00. Come join us. Anybody’s welcome.” We put this out on the Nextdoor app, invite 300 households, no kidding. And then at 7 o’clock, we’re going to have a short Bible lesson, and we’re going to sing a psalm, and we’re going to pray. And, you know, what – first of all, neighbors already know what we’re going to do. So…

Jim: So it’s not a surprise?

Rosaria: …It’s not a surprise. And because we do this every single night – Kent has been leading family devotions every single night. At a certain point the – you know, the kids bring all the dishes up to the dishwasher, and they send the Bibles and the mugs of coffee and the psalters down.

And you know what? Sometimes neighbors say, “Uh, hey, I got to go.” That’s fine. But they don’t always. But the reason for these open and regular invitations is this – many of your neighbors, I might even say most, are afflicted with abuse and addiction. And that means that as noble as your invitation, you know, Tuesday night at 7:00 might be, quite frankly, many of your neighbors do not know if they’re going to be sober or safe that particular Tuesday.

But, you know, if it’s regular – “Hey, we do this every week – one of those weeks, they will be ready. And so, we turn it in this way, and it’s a known reality. And we’ve had neighbors say, “Wow, is this some strange ritual you do?” I don’t care what you call it, but we’re going to go there. And the reason is because we’ve just talked about heavy things, we’ve just talked about important things, and now we want Jesus to enter this conversation, not to stop the conversation but to deepen it.

And then you know what? We’re gonna come back and do this tomorrow, and we’re going to do this the next day. So we don’t have a one-time opportunity to talk to our neighbor. This is the problem, is that people have very shallow understandings of the relationships that they are to create. I’m not talking about a shallow relationship with my neighbors. God never gets the address wrong. He gave me these neighbors. He appointed these relationships. And I’m going to build them for as long as He keeps me there.

Rosaria: And so to spend a good amount of time listening is very important. I mean, how will you know what the Gospel bridge is to your neighbor? Too often, Christians think in false categories of personhood. They think, “Oh, there’s got to be some special Gospel for my neighbor who identifies as lesbian or a – a different way of approaching the Gospel for my neighbor who identifies as Muslim” – or not. You know, I mean, a big question that Christians have to ask – this was a question Ken Smith asked me 20 years ago – “Rosaria, do you believe that what is true determines what is ethical? Or do you believe that what is ethical will determine what is true?”

We are all image-bearers of the holy God – every single person. I don’t care what category you have slapped onto yourself. There’s only a few that are going to survive eternity. We know the word of God will survive eternity, so we want to make sure that our neighbors, who might never hear it elsewhere, will hear it from us. But here’s what we need to also remember: life is hard, and some people have one cross to bear, and others have 10. So rather than pretending that the Christian life is democratic, why don’t we just work hard to roll up our sleeves and help carry some of those crosses? But we can’t do it until they – we know what they are.

Jim: Well, and here’s the issue with that – it’s hard work.

Rosaria: Yes.

Jim: You know, and this, uh, Scripture that comes to my mind, Rosaria, is, uh, you know, “Do these good deeds so that they’ll honor your Father in heaven.” It doesn’t say, “Say these good words.”

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: Do these good…

Rosaria: Amen.

Jim: …Deeds because through those deeds, someone’s heart typically is opened. Even the most crusty of hearts…

Rosaria: Absolutely.

Jim: …is opened in that way because they see what’s real.

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: When somebody’s willing to do the Word…

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: …Um, it…

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: …Changes the relationship, doesn’t it?

Rosaria: Yes. And what we’re talking specifically about is the way table fellowship does that – that these aren’t just good deeds of changing – I mean, it’s good to change a tire – a flat tire. I personally don’t know how to do that, so you really don’t want my help.

Jim: But helping neighbors and…

Rosaria: …But helping…

Jim: …You know.

Rosaria: …Neighbors, those are very good things. But – but to gather nightly at the table, that has the thumbprint of Jesus all over it. You know, have you ever wondered – I – I’ve often wondered in Luke 7, how it is that Mary, this woman of the streets, wanders into this dinner party? And the next thing you know, she’s at Jesus’ feet – oil, tears, loose hair. I mean, I’ve thrown a lot – I do hospitality every night. I’ve never had…

John: Had anything like that?

Jim: Something like that.

Rosaria: …A party-crasher like that. That’s crazy, right? But what’s also so amazing about it, I think – I mean, I think it’s amazing – is that it shows us how accessible that home was. And that home was accessible because these first-century homes had a kind of outdoor, easy-access porch, really.

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: And so one of the things that we’ve learned is that start by throwing parties in your front yard. You know…

Jim: Draw people in.

Rosaria: Draw – put the grill in the front yard. Put lots of tables and chairs out. Get people in the front yard. It’s hard to cross the threshold of – of both church and home. You know, too many people have been abused in both of those – sadly, shamefully – both of those places. That’s been hard enough for people that don’t expect them to walk through the door of your home and find it easy to do. So start in the front yard.

Jim: Yeah. Rosaria, I need to ask some tough questions, too, about our attitude as Christians…

Rosaria: Mmhmm.

Jim: …And the issue about our tongue and how we use our tongue. And I – I want to get into this. And I’m gonna have you come back, if you can – let’s come back next time, tomorrow, and continue the discussion.

Rosaria: Love it.

Jim: But – but this idea – I think it’s partly born out of insecurity, that we don’t know enough to spiritually battle competently, and so we turn to this defensive posture…

Rosaria: Yeah.

Jim: …When people knock us off our – our spot.

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: And we attack verbally…

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: …Which is utterly the wrong thing to do…

Rosaria: Yeah. Absolutely.

Jim: …When you’re talking to somebody with the Gospel. I love Romans 2:4, which says, “Don’t you know it’s God’s kindness that leads one to repentance?”

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: I mean, this is what you’re saying!

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: It doesn’t – I often speak in front of audiences, and I’ll ask, “Who was beaten verbally, emotionally or physically into the kingdom of God?”

Rosaria: Right, zero.

Jim: I’ve never had a hand go up.

Rosaria: No, absolutely. And you never will.

Jim: Nobody has said to me, “I was so mistreated by those Christians…”

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: “…That I decided to become one of them.”

Rosaria: Right. Absolutely.

Jim: It’s always the other way.

Rosaria: That’s right.

Jim: “I saw such incredible love.”

Rosaria: Right.

Jim: “They treated me with such kindness.”

Rosaria: Right. Right.

Jim: And yet, it’s a tool we don’t readily use.

Rosaria: That’s right. No, I think that’s absolutely right. But I would also add to that that those Christians were disarming.

Jim: Right.

Rosaria: I came to them with a sense that “This is who I am.” I came to them with the sense that “I am a lesbian.” That’s what I said to Ken Smith, my first meeting. Two years later, through his clear Gospel witness and love, I came to realize that lesbian may very well be how I was, but it will never be who I am, so…

Jim: Which is so powerful.

Rosaria: He did not meet me where I was and leave me there. He met me where I was, and took my hand, and said, “Let’s go talk to Jesus about this.”

Jim: Yes.

Rosaria: But again, there’s no way for you to have a good witness to your neighbors if you’re mouthing off on Facebook. I – I mean, I’m sorry.

Jim: Or in person.

Rosaria: Well – or in person. But I would say a big challenge that people have is that they’ve gotten really comfortable with this idea that “When I’m with my people, I’m just gonna let loose.”

Jim: Yes.

Rosaria: We have unguarded, unsanctified speech with each other because we don’t think that outsiders are listening in, and we apparently don’t seem to think that Jesus is listening in, too.

Jim: Yeah. So we behave differently.

Rosaria: Shame on us.

Jim: Uh, this has been a great conversation and, uh, a challenging one. I know that some people are going, “Wait a minute. That doesn’t sound right.” Uh, the best thing is, read the Scripture.

Rosaria: Amen.

Closing:

Jim: Look at 2 Timothy 2:22. Read it right to the end of that chapter. I think you’ll be convinced that, um, certainly, the Lord and the disciples were teaching us all, not just Timothy and those of the New Testament time, but us, as well, as Christians in the modern era to, um, better understand the heart of God. And this is a fantastic book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key – love the title. And I’d love to see it in everyone’s home. And I’m telling you, if you can make a gift of any amount, uh, I’ll say thank you by sending you a copy of the book and, uh, hopefully, putting that in your hand so you can put it into use. That’s the goal. And if you can’t make a gift, that’s okay. I believe in the message so much, others will cover the cost of that. So just get a hold of us, and, uh, let’s get this into your hands so you can better understand the heart of God.

Rosaria, thank you so much for being with us.

Rosaria: Ah, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much.

John: What a great conversation we’ve had with Dr. Rosaria Butterfield. And we’re looking forward to hearing more from her next time.

Meanwhile, donate and receive that complimentary copy of her book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Coming up next time, more from our guest about the spiritual gift and responsibility of hospitality.

Teaser:

Rosaria: If we’re going to be agents of grace, then we need to get close enough to the stranger to put the hand of the stranger into the hand of the Savior. And you know what? Somebody here is going to get hurt.

End of Teaser

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