If you are a parent, chances are you have heard or even used the term STRANGER DANGER. And whether you are an over-protective type with hand sanitizer in both hands at any given moment, or more "carefree," letting your kiddos explore and climb ant-ridden trees and eat the sand at the beach… Every loving parent has to address to subject of “stranger danger” with their child at some point.
And for good reason! We want to protect our children against the unknown, from any person who might intend harm. We carefully guard them from what could potentially hurt or frighten them. I believe this is built into us--parent or not, the desire to protect and preserve the safety and innocence of children is innate in us as human beings. God made us this way because HE is this way.
A popular song right now is "Good, Good Father" which comes from a passage in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus spoke about God as a loving father when He said, "If indeed you, (human parents) who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, HOW MUCH MORE will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
There are countless places where God compares our relationship with us to a Father and a dearly loved child. Our instincts as parents are certainly a reflection of OUR Father's heart for us! And God is not only a Father, He is a GOOD Father, desiring and ordaining what is best for His children.
So here is the irony I see...
Not only does our Father NOT teach us to fear strangers in the world around us, He commands the opposite. He SENDS us to every stranger! He sends us, the children He loves, delights in, sings over. Jesus told his disciples after the days following His resurrection and before He went back to His Father in Heaven, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)
We are sent to those we do not know because God, our Father, already does know them. He not only knows them, He created them. He loves them. He sent His only Son to die for them because He longs to restore them back to Himself! There are no strangers to God--and His Spirit is living inside of us, and He tells us to proclaim and declare His goodness, His gospel just as Jesus did.
And thank God that He pursued us when we were still strangers!
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8
I find it comforting when I think that the unknown person in line behind me at the store, the barista at my local coffee shop, even my neighbor across the street--all these people may be strangers to me, but they are precious and intimately known by my Father. He has a plan for their lives and has sent me to declare His love to them. I am less afraid when I see the people around me less as "strangers" and more and more as valued and loved and known by name.
And let me remind you (and remind myself too) that if God is for us, who can be against us?!
Paul wrote in Romans 10:14-15, "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?"
And He has sent us! You. Me. Those who were lost and now are found.
I hope that as we all continue to grow in our love for Jesus, that this will develop into a love for the lost around us. I pray daily for a heart that sees people as Jesus sees them. As my Father sees them. I want to live in a world of confidence in knowing that there are no strangers to our God, only precious, loved people.
And don't forget that YOU are precious. YOU are His dearly loved child. And your Father knows and loves YOU too. He is YOUR good, good Father. And He will be with you every step of the way.