Have you ever heard of the term ‘xenophobia?’ Xenophobia means “fear of the outsider.” The phrase itself isn’t common in today’s world since it’s rooted in ancient Greek, but what it means is something that relates to us all.
Think about it. Have you ever been afraid of someone unlike yourself? How about the church? Do you think the church is afraid of the outsider? For the most part, it seems like it.
Christians prefer to hang out with Christians. This is not wrong by itself. You need to spend time with a community of believers for support and fellowship. However, you cannot isolate yourself from the outsider. Why? Because we’re all called to go to the outsider.
Why are we afraid of making friends outside of Christian circles?
When you only spend time with fellow Christians, you’re neglecting God’s command to love others. You’re neglecting Jesus’ own example of engaging with outsiders and non-believers. If Jesus is the one we’re supposed to look to for guidance, shouldn’t we follow his ways?
Instead, we’re often too afraid to make non-Christian friends. We’re afraid they’ll somehow harm our faith and influence us to turn away from God.
We prefer to cluster ourselves in safe, Christian environments. This attitude permeates Christian culture. We only listen to Christian music, read Christian books, watch Christian movies, so, of course, we only have Christian friends. But, this isn’t how the church grows. This isn’t how we can love the outsider.
Xenophobia separates us from the non-believers. It draws a line between Christians and non-Christians, which leads to the many “us versus them” kinds of scenarios we see in our culture. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.
Jesus stepped outside of the circle
Jesus dined with the tax collectors. He healed the Roman Centurion’s servant. He healed the sick (who were outcast in their society). He spoke with a Samaritan woman (the Jews hated Samaritans). This was pretty radical stuff. Too bad, it’s still radical today for Christians to hang out with those outside of our circles.
We need to break down more barriers and reach those who are unreached. We need to engage with the culture around us and step into uncomfortable places where those who are nothing like us exist. When we do this, we’ll begin to see how God can use us in these places for loving all of his creation.