Xenophilia is certainly not a word which pops up in everyday conversation, at least, not in its original form. As born-again Christians, however, we ought to be familiar with it and its derivations as they are used in the New Testament of the Holy Bible.
The original Greek word “φιλονεξία” which we are looking at here is Philoxenia which “is the action of offering shelter and taking care of a foreigner /stranger /guest (from now on called ‘stranger’) at one’s own house. It encompasses the notions of caring, kindness, thoughtfulness and benevolence, which a host should show towards strangers while visiting his/her home. Philoxenia was an institution for the ancient Greeks to welcome and look after the strangers in their house” (Answers.Com).
We use the word Hospitality and the New Testament usages render the word as such as Romans 12:13 “distributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality“ and First Peter 4:9 “Be hospitable to one another, without grudging “ and the commonly used expression of “showing hospitality to strangers” as required in Hebrews 13:2 “Do not be forgetful of hospitality, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.“
One can see from these three simple verses that clearly and undoubtedly, hospitality is therefore required of all born-again Christians. But more than this, in First Timothy 3:2 we read a particular requirement for hospitality for all Pastors and Church leaders. ”Then it behoves the overseer to be without reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, well-ordered, hospitable, apt at teaching….” Here, we have a specific requirement of hospitality among all church leaders, but not as a special calling, but as a fundamental and basic duty.
How seriously should we take our Xenophilia? How seriously should we take our hospitality as a born-again Christian? Matthew 25:31-45 explains it all in the words of Jesus Himself, that there may be no doubt or dubiety saying:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory. And all nations shall be gathered before Him. And He shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And indeed He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats off the left.
Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink?
When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You?
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You?
And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me.
Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry, and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.Then they will also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You?
Then He shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.”
What Jesus is saying here is that those Christians who do not display hospitality are destined to everlasting punishment. Jesus and God, take hospitality, with deadly seriousness. We must too.
In His life on earth, Jesus was the great model for Philoxenia. He was constantly in the company of those whom the best of society and community leaders shunned; He was generally in the company of the common man and woman. His parables were all about them; the “Good Samaritan” being perhaps the most famous, where a Samaritan’s hospitality to an unknown stranger in need, is compared to the righteous and the pious Jews of the days, who passed by the stranger, not wanting to be involved (Luke 10:30-37).
Romans 5:8 should further focus our attention on our need and our requirement for hospitality toward others for: ”God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Yes, Jesus died for us when we were still in sin and the enemy of God, in direct rebellion to Him. That is Philoxenia, that is Xenophilia, that is hospitality personified by Jesus. And we are called to emulate Jesus, as First John 4:10-11 says: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
As Jesus loved, so must we. As Jesus provided hospitality, so must we. As Jesus did, so must we or we have no part in Him. For as Jesus said in John 15:5 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Amen and Amen.