Monday, October 19, 2009

Alien Love

I received several comments about my recent post.  Generally they went something like, “Surely those verses about aliens don’t refer to illegal aliens who broke to law to get into our country.” I believe they do.

Loving the alien is a clear calling for the follower of Christ. The author of Hebrews in chapter 13 verse 2 tells us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby ‘some have entertained angels unawares.’” In Paul’s list of marks of the true Christian in Romans chapter 12, we are told in verse 13 to “seek to show hospitality.” The word translated as hospitality both in the Hebrews and Romans passages comes from the Greek word philoxenia (φιλοξενία), which is literally the love of aliens. In English we have the word xenophobia—the fear of aliens—but we don’t have the word xenophilia, which might mean the love of aliens. 

Friends, hospitality is more than tea and cookies.  Starting at verse 10 in Romans 12, Paul lists the characteristics of a true Christian: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Rom 12:10-13 ESV).  Note that Paul’s list of marks of the true Christian opens with the easily recognized philadelphia in verse 10.  Paul instructs the listener to practice brotherly love—philadelphia—which all the more sets up the listener for the closing of that list where philoxenia—alien love—in verse 13 leaps off the page.  It screams out at me: Love the ALIEN!  THIS is Christian hospitality.  (With apologies to Rev. Steve Yamaguchi from whom I borrowed [stole] much of the above)

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