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!
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.