How do you feel about talking to strangers?
I feel uncomfortable talking to strangers on campus. My mother taught me not to talk to strangers (unless they said our secret password ... which was "jellybean"). I’m sure she meant this only as a childhood precaution. But somehow I carry an awkwardness around strangers into adulthood.
Do you share my awkwardness?
Despite my discomfort, over the years I’ve been blessed by talking to strangers at the start of every new school year. I’m going to do it again this year. And I think you should too.
Here are two theological reasons why …
For New Students
During my first week on campus, Clint and Krista visited my dorm. They welcomed me, gave me snacks and invited me to Small Group. That Small Group led to Urbana and another Small Group and before I knew it, I discovered a compelling calling for my life.
Talking to Clint and Krista was one of my best decisions ever.
The Bible encourages us to talk to strangers. We are reminded of a time when Abraham talked to strangers and they turned out to actually be angels (Check out Hebrews 13 and Genesis 18).
Now, Clint and Krista weren’t angels. And you may not encounter angels this school year. But, in the Bible, God sends out angels as messengers. In fact, the Greek word “angelos” from which we derive the English “angel” actually just means “messenger.” And I believe God may have messengers on campus waiting for you.
What if God sends people your way with a message? They might approach you as strangers. They may have an invitation for you that could change your life.
Does that make it a little more exciting to talk to strangers?
For Returning Students
When I remember my first year on campus, I’m filled with gratitude that Clint and Krista broke through their stranger shyness to talk to me.
Do you have memories of strangers welcoming you to campus?
Throughout the Bible, memory of the past shapes the ethic of God’s community. We remember when we were slaves to sin and so pursue humble relationships. We remember when our people were slaves in Egypt and so extend justice to those who come here from other places. (See Ephesians 2 and Deuteronomy 24)
Do you remember when you were a stranger to campus?
Somebody, somewhere did something to make space for you. What would it look like for you to go and do likewise?
What are your plans to talk to strangers this week?
Why do YOU find yourself wanting to talk to strangers?