What word would you guess is the opposite of “hospitality”? A look into a couple of other languages might help us…
Philoxenia = hospitality. Transliteration: love of strangers
Xenophobia = fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. Transliteration: fear of strangers
Gastfreundschaft = hospitality. Transliteration: friend of guests
Auslanderfeindlichkeit = xenophobia. Transliteration: enemy of foreigner
It seems pretty straightforward that Jesus’ famous words below are calling us away from xenophobia and into philoxenia:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies…” Matt. 5:43
In an age of growing xenophobia, those who identify themselves as followers of Jesus will do well to remember and practice our divine mandate to practice the love of strangers. Hospitality.
Looking for a good book on the subject?
Rachel Uthmann, IAFR Director of Church Training, recently told me about the book “Making Room” by Christine Pohl. Published in 1999, it remains as relevant as ever – perhaps even more so today than when it was first released.