I grew up in (South) Scottsdale, so I am clearly an expert when it comes to gangsters and gang membership.
True story: when I was a senior in high school, the local authorities (our school resource officer) questioned me about my involvement in a gang called “The Crew”.
I was a part of “the crew”, but we weren’t called “The Crew”, we were just a bunch of kids who hung out together, and occasionally referred to each other as “our crew” or said things like, “the crew is hanging out” or something like that… but word got to THE MAN, and they thought we were forming a gang. We embraced it.
So, as you can see, I didn’t choose the thug life… it chose me.
Because of my gang affiliation, I learned a lot about gangster life. One thing I learned was the ritual known as “blood in, blood out”.
I Googled that phrase in preparation for the scholarly work you’re currently reading, and I see that a movie and a TV series or two have come out with that as the title. Let me save you a couple hours of time and tell you what it means.
Blood in, blood out is the idea that, to join a gang, you first have to kill someone. They bleed, you’re in. Blood in. It’s as terrible as it sounds.
Blood out is the idea that, if you ever want to leave that gang, you’re gonna have to bleed… to death. Blood out. You’re out.
The whole idea is primitive and barbaric, but I respect one thing about it: the commitment level.
If you want to be a gangster, you’re in it for life, one way or the other. You’re committed to them. On the flip side, your fellow gang members are in it WITH YOU for life. They’re completely committed to you.
There’s nothing you can do to end your connection and belonging to that gang, except die.
Plus, your fellow gang members will both kill for you AND die for you.
You’re in. For life. You’re ONE until you’re DONE.
It’s a lifetime membership.
Ok, so I wish there were no gangs or violence or bla bla bla… but here’s why I share all of that:
If you’re a Christian, my theological understanding is that you’re in, and you’re always in.
Kick it old school Baptist with me for a minute— what I’m saying is, you can’t “lose your salvation” or your place in the family of God, or your forgiven’ness (that’s not a word), or phrase it however you want.
It won’t be taken from you. Nothing will be reversed or undone. The Spirit of God isn’t gonna reverse and undo and move out of you… you’re sealed and set, AND there’s nothing YOU can do to end it either.
You’re in. Forever. Feels good, right?!
That’s all true on a cosmic level, but it’s not… always… true here in the flesh and blood level.
You can be OUT of that community if you do something as simple as… change your mind about something.
If you no longer share the same certainty with your community, you may soon find yourself on the outside of that community looking in!
If you change your mind about anything from baptism to egalitarianism to inerrancy to LGBTQ inclusion, you might find yourself with some extra free time on Sundays pretty quick!
Here’s my point: when it comes to commitment, the Church is losing to the Bloods and the Crips!
It’s blood in, blood out for the gang members
It’s believe in, disagree out for the church members.
Does anyone else see the absolute craziness of this?!
There are 4,000+ religions in the world, but we’re bold enough to kick people to the curb if they don’t guess about God the same way we guess about God.
We can do better.
We have to do better.