Your Lord’s Day Might Be Someone Else’s Way of Escape

Article
11.14.2018

Radically ordinary hospitality begins when we remember that God uses us as living epistles—and that the openness or inaccessibility of our homes and hearts stands between life and death, victory and defeat, and grace or shame for most people.

Consider with me the tension of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This passage speaks to the intensity, the loneliness, and the danger of temptation. It also speaks to the lived tension of applying faith to our trials and then waiting for that way of escape to present itself.

Have you ever thought that you, your house, and your time are not your own but rather God’s ordained way of escape for someone?

REMEMBERING THE LORD’S DAY

I think about this every Lord’s Day morning as I’m preparing food for two meals: one weekly fellowship meal at church and one meal at home with neighbors and friends and folks from church. I pray as I prepare food, remembering how the Lord’s Day was a special day of temptation for me when I was a new believer. You see, beyond its wholesome surface, it is a day of warfare in toto. Perhaps you’ve not noticed this, but the Lord’s Day is a terrible day of temptation and sin for many people. Without the moorings of worship, a vital church community, and meaningful fellowship, it’s nearly impossible to actually honor the fourth commandment— the commandment that reminds us to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8)

How do we “remember” this, what we now call the “Lord’s Day”? The best way to remember anything is to do it collectively. God is calling me to remember the Lord’s Day not just for myself, for my own personal holiness, but also to live in such a way that I enable others to do so as well. I am called to create a place at the table for others, to be available to the hurting and the lost.

We keep the Lord’s Day in this communal way by sharing the ordinary means of grace that God has given to us. The Lord’s Day is not a “family day” or a “just us day.” If you preserve this day in that way, you steal glory from God and unwittingly cause others to stumble. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13? You just might be the way of escape.

LIVING IN COMMUNITY

Living in community is not just pleasant; it’s life-saving. In Life Together Bonhoeffer comments:

Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more extractive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.[1]

Sin demands isolation. While community does not inoculate us against sin, godly community is a sweet balm of safety. It gives us a place and a season where we are safe with ourselves and safe with others.

My favorite day of the week is the Lord’s Day, and I want to share that day with others. Kent and I open our home after worship to anyone who will come. We must. We remember what it is like to be a new Christian, to be single, to have secrets that get you alone and torment you, and to have no place to go after worship, the odd tearing apart of the body of Christ as each retreats to her own corner or clique while the benediction still rings in the air. 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. Worship leaves us full and raw, and we need one another.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS NOT A PERFORMANCE

We live in a world that highly values functionality. But there’s such a thing as being too functional. When we are too functional, we forget that the Christian life is a calling, not a performance. Hospitality is necessary whether you have cat hair on the couch or not. People will die of chronic loneliness sooner than they will cat hair in the soup.

Know that someone is spared another spiral binge of pornography because he is instead playing Connect Four with you or walking the dogs or jumping on the trampoline. Know that these small things that you may take for granted have been the Lord’s appointed way of escape for a brother or sister. Know that someone is spared the fear and darkness of depression because she is needed at your house, always on the Lord’s Day, the day she is never alone but instead safely in community where her place at the table is needed and necessary and relied upon.

Know that someone is drawn into Christ’s love because the Bible reading and singing that come at the close of the meal include everyone, and it reminds us that no one is scapegoated in this Christ-bearing community.

* * * * *

Editor’s note: This article has been taken from The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield, ©2018. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: A Discussion of Christian Fellowship, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 112.