Monday, August 01, 2005

you belong to me

The boy behind the counter had long, thick dredlocks, like earthy brown ropes. I’d only recently learned how one went about turning straight hair into dredlocks, and the whole process fascinated me. “I like your hair,” I said.

He smiled, rung up my order, and said, “Well, I like your cross.”

I know that kids today often wear crosses for no other reason than because it’s fashionable, but something told me this boy liked my necklace for a different reason.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked.

He smiled. “Yep.”

“Hey--that's great!" I handed him the money for my chicken burger. “Where do you go to church?”

His smile faded slightly and his eyes changed. I saw a spark of defiance there, a look that said he was preparing for a battle.

“I don’t. I like to think my church is wherever I am. God can’t be contained within a building.” He waited for my response.

I knew what he expected to hear. Most lone ranger, stand alone Christians have heard all the arguments. They've weathered those conversations in which they’ve been lectured to “not neglect our church meetings” (Hebrews 10:25, TLB). They’ve been warned that their faith will be weakened if they aren’t in regular fellowship, and told of all the dangers that lurk for those who’ve wandered from the fold.

I could see by the look in the boy's eyes that he expected me to say something along those lines. I could have. Those arguments are all true. But what popped into my mind wasn’t a warning about how he needed the church. Instead, I thought about how great it would be to get to know him, and how refreshing it would be to get a younger perspective on things. I thought about how much he might add to a body of believers.

“That’s too bad,” I said. “That means that somewhere, there’s a church missing out on you.”

It's an undeniable fact: We need each other. I need to hear your stories and you need to hear mine. I'm curious to hear how God drew you to Himself. I want to know about all the times He’s provided for you and given you peace and strength to get through life’s difficulties. It builds my faith to hear what God has whispered to you--and it builds yours to hear what He's said to me. Our lessons aren't ours to hoard.

Paul reminded us in Romans 12:5 that we’ve been chosen to be part of Christ’s body. “Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?” (Msg)

Whatever benefit we think we might derive from being a lone ranger Christian, the truth is that we weaken ourselves and deprive the church of our gifts when we try to stand alone.

Without each other, we hobble.

“Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” --Romans 12:5b (NLT)


24 Comment:

At 8/01/2005 1:42 PM, Anonymous Humble Pie had this to say ...

Not so fast there little Missy... I want to know what happened next. What was the look on his face? What did he say?

I so appreciate your unpredictable response, really I do! (That came out rather Valley Girlish didn't it?)


At 8/01/2005 1:49 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

All right, my kindred spirit, all right! (I'm totally a "little missy-er" myself. And part Valley Girl, if my use of "totally" means anything. :)

He did look a little surprised that I didn't lecture him, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he busied himself with getting my order. I really wanted to talk to him further, but you know how that goes in a fast food restaurant. I just prayed he'd think about it and find a church to plug into.

We have NO dredlockers in our church. Won't someone help with this? :)

At 8/01/2005 4:12 PM, Anonymous Humble Pie had this to say ...

Kindred spirit? Ooooh, how sweet! So when do you think I'll start writing as good as you? :)

As much as our God loves to make things look like coincidence, I won't be surprised the day you blog about seeing this young man sitting behind you in church.

At 8/01/2005 4:16 PM, Anonymous Humble Pie had this to say ...

Someone named Sherilee (I think) had a comment posted above my 2nd comment and it disappeared when I posted mine. Just thought I'd let you both know that IT'S NOT MY FAULT! NOTHING IS EVER MY FAULT!

At 8/01/2005 9:08 PM, Blogger purple_kangaroo had this to say ...

What a great response . . . so true.

At 8/01/2005 10:06 PM, Blogger Lori had this to say ...

I actually liked this young man's response because I think he has it right. God is wherever we are and is not contained in one building. I happen to have a church home and it's important in my life, but I know there have been many, many times where I have felt closest to God outside of a church. One of the most profound moments of my life was in a car with a magnificent sunset over my shoulder. Some of the nicest people - and "best" Christians I've known, do not regularly attend church. But I see it in their spirits and their actions. Unfortunately one of the biggest deterents for people attending church is the people who already attend. It's up to us to represent the church and God...to show others through our love and actions that this is where they'd like to be. There's an old Edgar A. Guest poem that I love called, "I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one any day". And I agree. Words are empty unless they are backed up by example.

You were kind to him, and he will remember that. I imagine he is thinking of what you said and entertaining the thought of seeking out a church.

At 8/02/2005 7:14 AM, Blogger Fishkrisser <> had this to say ...

Thanks for what you said to him. That is a much more appreciated response than the lecture, I know.

I went without a church for a year and then someone I was friends with did just what you did. That is how I ended up to being at CCM and just imagine what it would be like without me. It is so much more refreshing to be with a church and other Christians to fellowship with. I forgot how much again because of my ankle, it has been near impossible to go to church or help with the childrens ministry.

I believe I will be seeing you all very soon though because I have been pushing my ankle very hard to work and hope to be able to gimp around you all within a week!!! Slowly of course. But all the same it will be worth it cause I miss you guys so much.

ps...what part of the church body am I? Maybe the ankle since you've been without that for so long.

At 8/02/2005 7:56 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

No, Fish, you're the arms. Whenever I think of you, I picture you either reaching out to tickle or tag a child, or holding one of them to offer comfort. You are definitely the arms.

I'm so glad you'll be back soon! But don't push the ankle too much. We don't want to redo things. :)

Lori, hello and thanks for visiting! I just came from your blog. Nice writing. :)

You know, I agree with you and with the Burger King boy that God cannot be contained within a building, and I'm right there with you when you describe the revelation of God you've seen in nature. (I posted about that recently here.) But the point I wanted to make is that God designed it so that we'd come together and share the gifts (and the beauty) He's put in each of us. So when I think of Christians living and moving and breathing somewhere off by themselves, apart from the fellowship God designed for them, it makes me sad. Just as fingers don't function well apart from a hand, a Christian is missing out on both a blessing and a ministry by separating himself from the Body.

Thanks for your thoughts. :) God bless you!

At 8/02/2005 8:33 AM, Blogger Bill and Glory had this to say ...


Where do you find all these fascinating people? You know I can identify with this guy so easily. While I truly enjoy our Sunday and Wednesday services for the corporate worship and the teaching that we get, my heart is in spending time with other believers in our home and being an encouragement and blessing outside of the church building. We all need that kind of balance.


At 8/02/2005 10:56 AM, Blogger whaaaat! had this to say ...

I know from personal experience the importance of a church fellowship for spiritual and emotional support and growing in the Lord. My wife and I spent a good period right after we married not regulary attending church. We gave the excuse of not liking anywhere we visited, which was true but we also didn't try too hard. And it really does go the other way too in what you can contribute to a church. Even financially, that was the only time we haven't tithed and I wonder what blessings we missed out on as well as what those dollars could have done for God's kingdom.

At 8/02/2005 1:02 PM, Anonymous joe cool cowboy poet had this to say ...

I love what Lori had to say. But I agree with you too that it is so nice to share God with each other too. The uplifting feeling of singing His praises in a crowd is a most wonderful feeling. But so is thanking him for the beauty that surrounds while walking in the woods. Thanks for inviting him back.

At 8/02/2005 4:55 PM, Blogger Zing had this to say ...

I think my comment was the one delete. I said…. Great comeback… your right somewhere a church is missing out on him. Shannon, What I want to know is…How does one go about turning straight hair into dredlocks?

At 8/02/2005 5:01 PM, Blogger steve had this to say ...

I love that line. Good stuff. God Bless

At 8/02/2005 5:03 PM, Blogger steve had this to say ...

blogrolled you. Hope you dont mind

At 8/02/2005 5:08 PM, Blogger Stephen had this to say ...


I want to know about the dredlocks, too, although my wife has forbade me to recompose my hair as such. :D

Thanks for this post. I'm wanting to get involved in my congregation again--I've been aloof for much of the year, but my wife and I are really wanting relationships again. We all need each other.

At 8/02/2005 9:08 PM, Blogger Darlene had this to say ...

That was an awesome perspect and one that I'm sure hit home with him. I love dreadlocks!

At 8/03/2005 2:55 AM, Blogger Angie Poole had this to say ...

Great post, Shannon, and a loving response to that young man, too.

At 8/03/2005 4:00 AM, Blogger Kevin had this to say ...


That is a very nice story! I wish someone had said that to me a long time ago. I appreciate your writing, keep it up!


At 8/04/2005 5:16 PM, Blogger loren had this to say ...

This was a cool story, God put that answer in your mouth. And you're a pretty good writer, too.

At 8/06/2005 6:07 AM, Blogger Milton Stanley had this to say ...

Good word, Shannon. I blogged about it this morning. Peace.

At 8/08/2005 10:27 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Hi all! Sorry I've been so lax in responding to your comments, I've just been swamped.

Steve, thanks for linking me. I did the same. I really enjoy your site.

Stephen, if you ever DO get your wife to change her mind, please send me a picture. :) I'm glad you're feeling the need for relationship again. That's God, you know. :) I'm sure the two of you add much to your congregation.

Thanks Glory, Tracy, Linda, Joe, Darlene and Angie. And welcome to Kevin and Loren. Thanks, Milton!

For all who asked, here's what I know about dreds:

It sounds complicated, but it really involves little beyond sectioning, soaking, and backcombing the hair to create a mass of knots. If you do it right, the knots nearest the scalp will tangle the new hair as it grows. Basically, you do everything with your hair that you've spent the rest of your life trying NOT to do -- or KNOT to do, as is the case. :) www.dreadheadhq.com has instructions and pictures. I don't know why, but the whole thing fascinates me.

At 8/09/2005 1:28 AM, Blogger Amie had this to say ...

“That means that somewhere, there’s a church missing out on you.”- this is nice. i never thought of it that way. i'm a catholic but i'm not big on going to my church regularly. i always thought my conversation with God is between me and Him and the place is irrelevant. and what more sometimes other people make it so hard to see good in going regularly to one, when you see them deep in prayers inside and then later act not befitting to what purportedly what they are.

At 8/10/2005 8:50 PM, Anonymous tracey had this to say ...

Hmm. That was a good, loving response.

I've not had good experiences at church lately -- a verbally abusive (in private only) senior pastor and a best friend accusing me of having demons. (Something I posted about at length on my site.)

Situations like these make it hard for one to feel that church is a refuge, that church is a place where family is, that Christians will treat one another with love and compassion.

I realize God needs to heal these wounded places, but the wounds make it all the harder to go to the place where they occurred.

At 4/20/2006 9:24 AM, Anonymous Susan Sharpe had this to say ...

Dear Shannon,
I have come across your blog via a friends blog site, both of us in the UK. I just wanted to encourage you that what you have written here has been used by God to speak to me.
Your writting is just so beautiful, and for some one with mild dyslexia I am in awe of someone who can use words so wonderfully. It is a great gift that God has given you.
Thank you,

Yours in Christ, Susan Sharpe


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