Ever know someone who never met a stranger? That is my oldest daughter. Ever since she was a baby, anyone could hold her and she simply did not seem to care or mind. Most children, when taken from their mother, will start to reach out and cry to get back to their mom. My oldest never did that. In fact, it actually became quite worrisome for me and my wife. Literally anyone could have walked away with her, and she would have gone with them without so much as a whimper. These days, I think we've managed to instill in her a healthy respect for strangers, but she still has the same personality.
When I think about what my daughter will be like when she grows up, I think back to when I was a child with a neighbor who was always very outgoing and friendly. She had a son my age, and whenever I would go over to his house she would answer the door and say, "Well look who finally arrived! We've been expecting you! Come on in and have a cookie. Where have you been and what have you been up to?" What a wonderful way to greet and be greeted. I always felt welcome there. I also remember the days after they moved away. Even with all the people who lived around us, I remember how empty the neighborhood seemed after that.
The world is full of people that go unknown. We pass them as we walk through the mall, we shop with them in stores, and we drive down the road with them without ever acknowledging them. It is the rest of the world we live in. It is a world full of people yet so very empty. It is a wall of relational separation. We do not know them. They do not know us. So, we will have nothing to do with them.
This wall of separation is what Jesus broke down many times. He went to the woman at the well and spoke with her. He spoke to a man who had climbed up a tree. Over and over again he went to the strangers of the world, looked them in the eye, and communicated on some level - "I know you."
I think it is a great example of what we might be able to accomplish as Christians in this world. Many times we do not know what to do or what to say or how to act when talking with someone we do not know, and that is part of the problem. Maybe it is just a sign of the times we live in, but the walls of relational separation between individuals in this world have grown thicker. The message we are communicating, whether intentional or not, is "I don't know you. You are not welcome here."
Next time, when God speaks to your heart about talking with someone, try to imagine how they might feel if someone they knew walked up to them and said hello. At that moment, just before you speak and just after you have looked them in the eye, think to yourself "I know you" and see where the conversation goes.