Okay...so you take your inspiration where you can find it. Sometimes God speaks to us in a voice that only we hear. Where others see madness we see beauty. That's where this post is going to start...
About a year ago I came across a show on Discovery Channel, called "The Devil's Ride". It follows the lives of a motorcycle club in San Diego who go by the name "The Laffing Devils". I was fascinated by the show and by who these men are both in the club, and in their personal lives. I saw guys battling their own demons, guys trying to balance their marriages to their wives and their family lives with the marriage to their "colors" and their family in the club. Mostly...I saw brotherhood. Real honest to goodness brotherhood.
So I noticed a few of the guys post on Twitter and I started following a few of them. Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks that because a famous (or notorious) person "follows you back" on Twitter, you are their friend in the real world. Usually it means they recognize that you aren't a twitter troll or some jackass who wants to try scoring some personal tough-guy points on the internet. I've seen this with lots of people, not just the guys from the LDMC.
But last summer, I happened to notice a "Tweet" from one of the Laffing Devils guys that I follow. He goes by "Bonez". Apparently some Christian folks had decided that being a Laffing Devil somehow meant you took the name so seriously that you had no recognition of God whatsoever in your life, and they were trying to hammer him pretty good. I imagine they were doing their share of twitter evangelism, and making the guy's skin crawl. I can't remember what Bonez posted that made me ask him what was going on, I just remember feeling like I needed to apologize for the way some Christian folks behave. He was appreciative of whatever it was I said and not much else transpired.
While they were filming the current season, the LDMC guys all went silent on social media. I imagine it was part of the deal with DC so that nothing leaked out about the upcoming episodes. The show returned a few weeks ago and with it, the LDMC guys were posting with more regularity.
So last week I said hello to Bonez and asked him if the "faithful" were still giving him a hard time. He was nonplussed about it and I told him I was developing a Bible study about Christian brotherhood based on what I saw when I watched "The Devil's Ride". I guess Bonez saw that I was serious and he told me the analogy was actually perfect. "It's a great parallel example" he wrote back. Bonez is no dummy. None of these guys are.
I watch the show and I find things that I know I would miss if I looked through the lens of legalistic Christianity. I see things I wish I could experience. I see guys living out MY faith sometimes better than I do and--that I am aware of--none of them claims to have any particular relationship with Jesus. But they sure live like they do. At least where real brotherhood is concerned.
I was thinking about how these guys really love each other. There is politics, and anger, and arguing and sometimes violence amongst them. But all that existed within the 12 Disciples while Jesus was alive on Earth. Peter was loud and bragadocious and appointed himself the leader. He swore he would never betray Jesus and he lopped off the ear of the servant who came with the soldiers to arrest him. He lived with Jesus every single day for 3 1/2 years and then as soon as the heat was on, he denied he even knew Him and did so with a mouth full of vile obscenities. Jesus forgave him and there is no record that the other disciples ever held it against Peter. Because he was a brother.
They lived together, worked together, and learned about this new way of living from the son of God Himself. They had a special bond that their years of being together had forged. They were brothers.
I grew up in a home where brotherhood and family were never really embedded in our hearts. I became a Christian when...after growing up in church...I had my head-on-collision with Jesus at age 27 and never looked back. I saw in the Church a family, and I sought out other Christian guys to be my brothers. I sometimes found great brotherhood. Sadly...sometimes I was disappointed.
We Christian men talk openly about being "Brothers in Christ" but are we? If you are my brother, the same blood courses through our veins. If not literally than spiritually. If you lose, our entire family loses a little. If I don't have your back, who does? Brothers love each other. They laugh at each others jokes and at their mistakes, but they help them overcome those mistakes. They love each other with toughness sometimes but tenderness under it all. They love each other with integrity. They are honest.
I watched TDR last year and I frequently thought how much I wished I could have that here in Nashville where I have lived since 1999, and can only point to maybe one guy as a real "brother". Last year the club had to have a long heart-to-heart with a guy who had a serious chemical problem. They did what brothers do...they were tough as nails until they made their point. Then they were loving and offered to help any way they could. When this man lost his battle with some health issues, his brothers were visibly hurting and they vowed to watch out for his family as long as they lived. I'm guessing they have kept this promise.
They have had serious splits in their group, they have had ego driven arguments, battles for prominence, and disputes over who was running things.
...just like the Disciples did on the night of the Last Supper when two of them were arguing with Jesus over which one should be the greatest in the Kingdom. It was embarrassing then and it is embarrassing now two thousand years later. Two or three guys arguing over "sitting at the Right hand of God" while Jesus was washing their feet and serving them. Years later and there was never any evidence that those men ever had that argument again. They fought and then forgave. They argued with each other and then prayed together earnestly. They disputed doctrine and rules and then broke bread together in peace and loving friendship.
Just like brothers.
I see this every week when I watch "The Devils Ride". I see guys who are very very human. Very loving and very harsh. Very tough and very gentle. They are brothers. Their brotherhood is messy, and difficult and real. I share a common thread with my Christian brothers...the blood of Jesus. These guys share a common thread too...the blood that makes their "Cut" something sacred to them. They are different men indeed but that Cut makes them all the same.
I went through five years of hardship and loss when I lost my home and my career and even my pets. I missed time with my daughter and I worked so hard to rebuild my life. I was watching these men thinking how if this happened to one of their group, they would have done anything possible to help them fix it.
Their brotherhood is far from perfect but it's so darned real. The brotherhood I've experienced has been so careful. So cautious. So very dependent on my being perfect. Where the Laffing Devils care about each other without limit...we Christians tend to only care about those exactly like us, who do it our way, and who pose no threat to our neat little lives.
Inside, I think we all wish we had battle-hardened friendships like these guys do.
I'm going to continue this in the coming days and weeks. I hope my readers will maybe tune in to "The Devils Ride" see the guys and what it is that inspires me about this show. And maybe you'll find some inspiration from an unusual place as well.
If any of the LDMC guys stumble across this blog...be safe. Keep watching out for each other.