Philoxenia is a Greek word meaning love of strangers, often translated as “hospitality” in our English versions.
This word reflects the heart of God in our relating to others. It is absolutely in line with His command that we pray for all men everywhere and the scriptural injunctions to do the work of an evangelist and to preach the Gospel to every creature.
Philoxenia also aligns with the blessing of Abraham, which is designed to touch every family and nation on earth.
It is clear from God’s Word that a parochial, narrow-minded approach is not in keeping with His purpose. We could even go so far as saying that any constriction of our commissioned universal reach is a disobedient stance that opposes and thwarts the will of God.
Of course, we can receive specific callings to certain people groups or nations but every believer has standing orders to keep the circle as wide as it can be in terms of our assignment to reach and preach.
Being given to philoxenia is a requirement for all believers and an absolute must for leaders. If you don’t have a heart for people, you don’t have a heart for the Gospel. That is a harsh reality.
Too often we want to narrow the circle of affection and love we will function in. Sadly, some people even take the super-spiritual stance of relating only to God and shunning human interaction. Far from this being evidence of a white hot love, it actually is the opposite. As Jesus Himself made clear, we demonstrate our love for God by showing love for others.
You cannot live your life only in a vertical relationship with God; you must live also on the horizontal plane and relate with others.
Jesus said that all men would know we are His disciples when they see the love we have for each other. Yes, this applies to our love as brothers and sisters in Christ but there is scope here also for philoxenia, the love of strangers.
I want to draw your attention to this passage:-
As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
“And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.” ROMANS 9:25,26 NKJV
We see here that God chooses to call people who are not His people by another term i.e. His people.
What we call people is important. If we call them unsaved, “the lost” or unbelievers, then that is what they will be.
This is why Jesus can see white fields ripe for harvest where we see barren wastelands of hardened hearts.
God here in Romans 9 says that there is a change of term in referring to people. He says that those who were once told “You are not My people” are now being called children of the Living God.
God calls those things that are not in the natural, temporal realm as they truly are in the spiritual, eternal realm. He speaks to our eternal realities and destiny, not our temporal condition.
Is this a key to revival? I think it is.
If God deems it necessary to intervene in the temporal realm we live in and speak to eternal truths rather than present conditions in order to conform these conditions to His purpose, then there is no maybe about it.
So should we.
Philoxenia is seeing the friend in the stranger.
It is also seeing the brother and sister in Christ in those we have previously termed as lost or unsaved.
In one sense, then, there are no strangers; only those who have yet to encounter Jesus and join the family.