Monday, January 18, 2010

Xenophobia

According to Wikipedia, xenophobia is a dislike and/or fear of that which is unknown or different from oneself. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." The term is typically used to describe a fear or dislike of foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself, usually in the context of visibly differentiated minorities.

As Christians, we can sometimes be so sheltered in our own little world of like-minded folks, that we develop xenophobia. Different classes, faiths, lifestyles and races make us uncomfortable. We don't want to be around them. We can even come to fear them.

I can be guilty of this at times. When I recently went to the homeless shelter I was afraid, or more accurately anxious. These folks were "different" that me. But you know what? They weren't. They were just like me, only in poorer circumstances.

How are we to be the salt and light of the world*, if we don't go out in it, if we are afraid of those different than us? The Bible tells us hundreds of times, "Do not be afraid." I've heard it is the most repeated phrase by Jesus in the Bible. Even though we are not to be of the world, we are in fact called to be in it. **

Today I reminding you, if you are already grounded in your faith, and myself to share the love of Jesus to someone "different" than you. You might find they are more like you than you thought. And you may introduce someone to Jesus who has never met Him, or has only heard judgement instead of His mercy and grace to those love Him.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (The Message) -- Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!


Chatty Kelly

Referenced verses (NIV):
*Matthew 5:13 - 16 -- "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.


**John 17:14-16 -- I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

20 comments:

Irritable Mother said...

I have recently gotten re-connected with a friend I used to know back in grade school. (LOVE Facebook!) She isn't totally "foreign" but I have a suspicion we aren't living parallel lives. She has an openness - though a fear - about visiting my church, and I am praying God will use me to draw her to Himself.
Thanks for this encouragement today.

Bonita said...

A great word, Kelly! My daughter and I are looking for volunteer opportunities in the community and its been interesting to think about the "different" folks we might encounter.

KelliGirl said...

Kelly,
This is so true. It's human nature to surround ourselves with people like ourselves. But Jesus said for us to be salt and light and to do this we need to get out of our own familiar circles and start spreading.

It takes courage to step beyond our safe boundaries. Congrats on doing that and going to the homeless shelter. Who knows what your next step will be.

It's great to stop by here for a visit. I've missed you.

T. Anne said...

What a great and timely post for me. Lord I hear you!

Beth in NC said...

That is a great reminder Kelly. I think it is so much easier for us to hang around those who are just like us.

Andrea said...

I suppose I am a bit strange. I like being around others of different faiths..I have found I am more grounded and know more about the depths of what I believe. In a few current relationships with people of other faiths we agree to disagree and respect each others beliefs. That has enabled me to ask "LOTS" of questions. I now know the truth of their belief system and in truth it makes me know how real my GOD is! My faith grows stronger through those relationships and I become a stronger witness each time I listen attentively and lovingly disagree. We "never" argue only discuss, love, and respect. In each relationship, they are astounded that I am not cruel to them. We (Christians) must learn how to handle ourselves. Being polite is not agreeing with someone. Okay, I will get off my soapbox, now.
GREAT POST!!
Hugs, love, and prayers,
andrea

Sharon Sloan said...

"Fear Not" is in the Bible 365 times -- one for every day of the year!!

Love you friend!

Carmen said...

So true! I noticed that I'm fearful of a lot of things. I prefer to think of it as cautious...but who am I fooling? It's hard to step out of our comfort zones, but when we do it opens up a whole new world that needs us. I really enjoyed this post...and the new word I learned!:)

Warren Baldwin said...

Perpetual problem, I'm sure even part of what kept the early disciples from venturing to the Gentiles to preach to them. God had to push even some of the Apostles to venture out to the Gentiles - look at Peter and Cornelius. Excellent post.

Lea said...

I'd never heard the xenophobia word before. Just taught me a new word Kel!

I think it all goes back to LOVE.
We are to love even our enemies.
If we could just really love people... nothing else would be an issue.

Edie said...

Great post Kelly! Any of us could end up being homeless. I've thought about that more than once. My heart goes out to them. I have found that many of them are not the drunkards and drugies they are accused of being.

I have some very good friends who are not Christian. The more deeply rooted I am in Christ, the harder it is to maintain those relationships, but it is mainly because of the difference in interests. I don't do bars, sports, or the entertainment industry. Those are the most common things people want to do or discuss these days. :)

Irritable Mother said...

Hey Kelly, the friend I mentioned in my comment above is coming over today and we're going to my church so she can get a little familiar with it before coming to Bible study tonight! Yay!
Would appreciate your prayers for her and us!

LisaShaw said...

Immediately after reading your message Kelly I turned around and saw on my refrigerator....

FEAR NOT! I apply that to every aspect of my life. I have to because if I don't then fear can take over!

Thank you for sharing always from your heart for the LORD.

Praying with you and for you.

Greg C said...

Interesting Kelly. This goes right along with the sermon we had this week.

Ronel Sidney said...

I have a friend who recently reconnected with me and believes she has lost her salt. These passages were so right on and spoke volumes to my heart. I asked her and her family to join us on Sunday night for church and dinner... praying for God to use me!!

Runner Mom said...

This was powerful! Things that I needed to be reminded of. The P31 devotional today is also on fear! Hmm...God speaking to me twice on this! Love when He does that.

So proud of your stepping out in faith to help out at the shelter...I can relate to your feelings! Been there as well.
Hugs!
Susan

My ADHD Me said...

Hi.
Can't think of a thing to add.
Great post!!

KrippledWarrior said...

Do you mean like a leather clad biker? Different?

Beverlydru said...

My observation is that we do indeed fear the unfamiliar, so the more experiences we have, the more we are open to new things. Bring on the new adventures!

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