Stranger Danger and Neighbor Love – Things I Think About

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Stranger Danger - Does it keep us separate? Does it prevent care and compassion? Does it hurt unity? Questions I ask myself. What do you think?

Stranger danger…

is the danger to children and adults, presented by strangers. The phrase stranger danger is intended to sum up the danger associated with adults whom adults/children do not know. (Wikipedia)

And because of stranger danger we:

Don’t talk with strangers.
Don’t walk with strangers.
Don’t…

In fact, children are told to run the other way if they are ever approached by someone they don’t know. Important and excellent advice! It’s our responsibility to do our best to keep our children safe.

But this post isn’t really about our children. It’s about how we may have taken our concern for our children and transferred it to our own lives.

So, I wonder. If we’ve allowed concern to take us beyond caution to suspicion and anxiety. Do we too quickly embrace the things that divide us rather than stopping to learn more about each other.?

I don’t necessarily have the answer. I know bad things happen. Just watch the news.

At first, I started writing about people I know who hitchhiked across the country years ago. Who thought nothing of climbing into a car with someone they didn’t know to get from one place to another. But I don’t know if it was really safer then or if we just didn’t have instant access to every horror story like we do now.

The truth is this is not new…

Read the Story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:

Jesus was asked by a religious expert in the Law, “Who is my neighbor?”

And Jesus didn’t talk about the people who lived nearby or in his community. He went right to people he didn’t know. Strangers.

“A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.” v. 30

And a priest walked by on the other side of the road. A temple assistant went over and took a closer look, but he also walked away. Then a Samaritan . . . a man who didn’t like Jews any more than they were liked stopped and took care of him.

And Jesus asked, “Who was his neighbor?”

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” v. 37

I don’t know if the priest and the temple assistant were afraid, cautious, or lazy. They may have had very good reasons for walking away. But Jesus didn’t think so. He said, “Show mercy.”

Now, I’m not advocating taking foolish risks . . . I’m simply wondering out loud if we might not do better to improve our attitudes.

Could we show mercy and refuse to be divided by:

  • Skin Color
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Traditions
  • Economics
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Etc.

American poet Audre Lorde said, It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

Stranger Danger - Does it keep us separate Does it prevent care and compassion Does it hurt unity Questions I ask myself. What do you think.

So, I’m asking us to consider the possibility of celebrating differences. Let go of fear and anger and think of ways to help each other.

Working outside of the home moms trying to help and understand working at home moms.
Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, etc. truthfully talking about policies instead of playing politics.
People of different skin tones focusing on what they have in common not what’s different.
No longer valuing people by the size of their home, car, or bank account.
Men and women working together without bias.
Accepting that intelligence comes in different forms and that wisdom is most important.

Okay, call it a dream . . . but maybe it’s one worth working towards.

[Tweet “Maybe the best way to help each other is by turning strangers into friends?”]

I’m not suggesting that you and I put ourselves in danger. I am proposing a change in perspective. Seeing everyone as a “neighbor.”

I want to stop looking at the things that divide us and start finding reasons to unite. I want to set aside fear and fatigue and simply trust Jesus.

Jesus, who challenged fear with…

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

And fatigue with…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28–30

In faith, I’m committing to staying open. I’m refusing to look for excuses to judge and reject and I’m looking for ways to get to know people. I’m refusing to jump on the side taking bandwagon and remembering that everyone has a story. One that influences their views and values. I’m committing to listening more and judging less.

I’m committing to not giving in. To continuing to think about these things for which I have no clear answers and turning to the One who does.

Will you join me? Maybe. Just maybe. We’ll turn more strangers into friends.

 

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22 thoughts on “Stranger Danger and Neighbor Love – Things I Think About

  1. I’m committed to staying open as well, Deb!
    What a great reminder that we can turn strangers into friends. Rather than worrying about all of the rotten apples, I want to continue to love others to Christ.
    Thanks for reminding us to refuse to reject and judge.
    Your heart and your words encourage me today~
    Melanie

    1. It’s learning not to judge too quickly. To look to character than appearances. And to give grace as abundantly as I’d like to receive it. Blessings my friend!

  2. This is a great reminder for me to be aware of those around me and to make an effort to get to know new people. I have often grappled with the tug in my heart to help someone and the balance to know the difference between being concerned for my safety and being “too careful” to the point of ignoring God’s call for me to reach out and love strangers.

    1. That’s always tough isn’t it, Valerie. I agree. I think the best thing is to quickly pray and trust God to guide us. Thanks for honestly sharing something that challenges us all. Blessings!

  3. Finding the balance doesn’t seem easy but I love that you point us to the One who does have the answers! Thanks for prompting a great discussion, Deb.

  4. I grew up near Pittsburgh so I was always exposed to a multi-cultural attitude. One of my best friends in high school was black (back then it was ok to say that). I stood before school with a Jewish student, that black student, and a Catholic friend while other former friends were fighting each other over color. As a pastor, I have to-no need to- go beyond all lines to reach people with the love of Jesus. Well said today Deb.

    1. You’re right Bill. I grew up near Detroit with many of the same opportunities. And our family is blessed with many different skin tones, backgrounds, and opinions. 🙂 We just keep loving by His grace.

  5. Deb, this is a very thought provoking post. It’s true, some of the most beautiful friendships I have now started with a simple conversation with someone who was a “stranger.” Thank you for reminded me our differences should be celebrated, not the reason for further division.

    1. Thanks, Abby. Several of my very good friends are people who upon first meeting I thought were VERY different from me. But the differences became small as the friendships grew. I’ve been blessed!

  6. Deb, thank you for sharing this thoughtful post. Differences really aren’t to be feared–differences add “color” to our life and world. There is a time and a place to be cautious, likewise, there’s a time and a place to take those risks and meet a new friend.

    Blessings,

    Kim

  7. Oh how I hope that we believers of all people can create relationships across all the things that the enemy would use to divide us. You’re making me assess my own life and where I’m drawing back. Thank you for good words, Deb. Happy to be your neighbor today at #rara linkup.

    1. Hi, Lisa! That’s what this month has been about for me. A self-assessment on how well I’m loving others in Jesus name. I know I’ll never get it done perfectly this side of heaven, but I will continue to challenge myself to do better. Thanks so much for visiting and stopping to say ‘hi.’

  8. I’m joining you, my friend! I couldn’t agree more! We did a series last year based on the book “The Art of Neighboring”. It talks about community movements right within our own neighborhoods, but the concept is the same. How many of our neighbors do we not talk to because they are different than us? I don’t think we consciously dislike them, but we are hesitant to reach out and bridge the gap because it’s uncomfortable at first. But, when we cross the uncomfortable, we can find treasures that unite us and bless us immensely!
    Blessings and smiles to you,
    Lori

    1. I can be guilty, Lori. I know my neighbors names and enjoy brief pleasant conversation, but I don’t really know much about them. Building community is always beneficial. Blessings my friend!

    1. Listen more than I talk. That’s my goal, Lux. Stopping to get to know hearts and minds. Thanks so much for stopping by and joining the conversation.

  9. Very interesting post. I am privileged to enjoy friendships across various groups…well from the Good Samaritan’s story we learn Jesus didn’t make those divisions. He didn’t treat people based on their colour, status, wherewithal or any other means. He had compassion.
    Thank you for adding your voice to such a sensitive topic, Deb.
    God Bless

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