Something about the word brotherhood makes most men smile. If not outwardly, than inside for sure. We watch shows like "Band of Brothers" and we wish we could have the kind of friendships forged in the fires of difficulty and testing and peril. Because those friendships go well beyond the kind we form at neighborhood cookouts and PTA meetings and on the golf course. We watch movies like "Miracle" and we understand why those great hockey players from 1980 are still joined at the soul and still care deeply for each other. Because they endured something so hard that most other men would have quit. It was getting through the test that was half the battle and it's what made you a brother. It made you a brother because it proved to the others around you that you were cut from the same cloth. That you had the stuff. That you were willing to work every bit as hard as they were and that they could count on you to give your very best until you had nothing left to give.
That's where brotherhood is born.
David and Jonathan were brothers like this. David was the future king of Israel, and the present king, King Saul, despised him for his status as God's favored man. Even though David honored Saul and respected him and loved him as his king...Saul tried to kill him several times. Jonathan was Saul's son and he loved David as a brother, and it was literally taking his life in his own hands to defend him against his fathers jealous insanity. But he did. He did because David was his brother. And even if it cost him his life, he would stand by his friend.
There is a sad scene that plays out in their friendship. Jonathan discovers a plot against David and he warns him about it. They meet in a field at dusk and they embrace and weep openly, because they realized that this was likely the last time they would see each other alive. It was heartbreaking.
Paul often describes leaving churches on his missionary journeys and the people hugging his neck and weeping. Paul was a brother.
I watch the LDMC guys and I see the same devotion. It's not cloaked in the innocence of young adulthood, as it was with the teen-aged David and Jonathan. And it's not quite the same as Paul and his relationships with the early churches. But it's similar at it's heart. These guys really care about each other. And they care about the club and their colors. They get frustrated with each other sometimes because they care so deeply. A brother in the club letting you down or breaking the protocol is a heart-wound, and it incites passion and emotion. These are tough men who have been hardened by life. Some of them have deep wounds and the club is their refuge. Most of them are distrusting of anyone not wearing the Cut. That makes the brotherhood they share with their other members so much more important.
It's an amazing parallel for my brotherhood with Christ. He is the only person...outside of my daughter...who has never once failed me. He is the only one who I know will stand by me. His blood is my "color" and my white robe of forgiveness is my "Cut". He is the only person who really knows me...with all my failings and frailties and bad habits and weaknesses, and yet loves me and stands by me.
I am told to have the same mind as Jesus has where my brothers in Christ are concerned. (Philippians chapter 2) yet how many times have I held a brothers sins against him? How safe is it for a broken friend to let his hair down in my presence and find in me, someone who won't judge him?
I watch the LDMC guys and I see something closer to unconditional brotherhood than I have ever received with only a few exceptions. Like salvation, there is only one way in the club. But once you are in, you are in. Whatever you are to the outside world, when you are amongst your brothers you are a brother as well.
Five years ago, when the mortgage industry collapsed and I lost my home and my career and I was sleeping in my car hidden behind a church, I longed for someone who would remind me who I was. That what I lost was not who I was, and that I had a safe haven. I had to call home and talk to friends I grew up with. My "club" was 900 miles away and the distance, at times, seemed like it was unimaginable.
I watch the Laffing Devils and I see a model for a men's ministry in a future church I will pastor. I want to have a place where honor and integrity can mingle with toughness. I want guys to see a place where their hearts are safe and where they realize that devoting yourself to your friends is the highest calling. I want men who are able to be brutally honest with each other because underneath the toughness they know they love each other as brothers. I want to raise up a church full of men who know each other, care about each other, accept each other, help each other get better and stand by each other until the last shots are fired.
I want to teach brotherhood...because while we often call each other "Brother So-and-So" we seldom really live like we are brothers. The saints could learn a little about this from the Devils.