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In his book, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, J.I. Packer has a chapter entitled “The Gospel as of First Importance.”  In that chapter, Packer discusses the pastoral and formational applications of the Gospel.  Many are familiar with the quote from Tim Keller that “the Gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian life; it is the A through Z of the Christian life.”  Packer writes,

“In that spirit we offer the following ‘Gospel Alphabet’–twenty-six pastoral and formative reasons why the Gospel must retain primacy as the content of Christian education” (108).

This week, we come to the letter “X”.

X is for Xenophilia

The actual Greek word we have in mind here is philoxenia, which literally means “love of strangers, foreigners, aliens.” Our coinage, if such it be, means exactly the same. In our English New Testaments, philoxenia is rendered as “hospitality” (Rom. 12:13; 1 Pet. 4:9) and “to show hospitality to strangers” (1 Tim. 3:2). In the final judgment Jesus will either commend or condemn based upon whether or not people have welcomed “the least of these” (and thus welcomed Christ himself; Matt. 25:35, 43).  Jesus is the greatest model for philoxenia, as is indicated in the Gospel narratives as well as in the whole wonder of his incarnation and passion. Indeed, we were not merely strangers to him; we were God’s enemies when he died for us (Rom. 5:8). In declaring such love, the Gospel also calls us to imitate it (1 John 4:10-11).