These words remind us of the importance of teaching our children some of the dangers as they venture out into the world. We were new parents with our oldest in a Super Wal-Mart when it happened. We looked down and he wasn’t there. He had been so desperate and independent that he wanted to walk. Well, walk he did. We were absolutely panicked!! We tore through the surrounding aisles looking for our son. We called, nearly screamed, to get him to answer us. We turned a corner and there he was just standing there like nothing had happened. Our hearts slowed, finally, and the adrenalin stopped surging. We were scared that someone had taken him. He was so engaging and trusting. We have, ever since, spoken to him about not going anywhere with a stranger.
Good and Bad Strangers
According to this website, there are good and bad strangers.
First and foremost, children need to understand what you mean by stranger.
Not all people unknown to them are necessarily dangerous – they need to understand the difference between “good” and “bad” strangers; an overly simplistic dichotomy, but one that puts the issue in terms a child can understand.
This is important so children understand where and to whom to turn if they are ever lost or feel scared, threatened, or if they think someone may be following them.
Examples of “good” strangers may include police officers, security guards, teachers, store clerks, etc. These are all examples of people to turn to if when your child needs help.
On the other hand, in many situations where your child may be approached by a “bad” stranger – the park, residential street, etc – those easily identifiable people may not be around.
Your child should know that there really are many more “good” people, than “bad.”
If they are approached by a “bad” stranger who tries to lure or physically pull them away, the best thing they can do is get the attention of other adults – whether that is by running to the nearest home, or making enough noise to be heard by someone, the vast majority of adults will help a child in danger.
The Church is Getting Carried Away
We have bemoaned for a decade that the numbers in church are dropping. We have warred over worship, attire, and atmosphere. Honestly, we have lost people over that too, but we will discuss it later. Preachers have spoken on the sins of sports, activities, and leisure obsessions. People are leaving. Families are falling apart. Marriages are dying.
Because no one has expressed to them what is really happening. We seem to want to fight a physical battle in a spiritual war. Those among you are being carted away by strangers. Look at this statement by Jesus,
“I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”
We must teach people the difference between good and bad strangers in their lives. The good will try to help you without pulling you away. We find a plethora of self-help self-talk books and blogs. We can find any group we need for whatever ails us. However, if that group or gathering pulls you away from God or the local church in which God has placed you then you must be on alert. The good stranger may be that blogger or author who help you in your time of need/crisis but push you back to where you belong. The bad strangers will pull you away from service and worship to do other things. Those strangers will be dressed right and have smiles on their faces but have nothing good for you.
Something to Consider
As we evaluate for the New Year and make decisions, sometimes rash ones, let us consider what is pulling us away from time spent with God and other believers. What is pulling you away from the local body God has for you? Why is a dialogue with God not happening? What is pulling you away? On the other hand, what or who have you been ignoring that is pushing you back to relational development with God and fellow believers? Engage them. Listen to them. Go with them.