Who are You With?

When I was about 17 years old, I was walking after midnight with three younger friends down Armitage Avenue in Humboldt Park in Chicago. We were going to our family’s little apartment.

As we were walking, we ran into a group of about 20 guys who I could tell were tough. I wasn’t sure they were in a gang, but I could only guess.

I had enough street smarts to know this wasn’t good.

As we approached them, they split up. About half of them crossed the street. The other half went the other way. They were surrounding us. Without missing a step, I walked straight to the leader. I’d never seen these young men before, but I could easily identify the leader because the others obviously deferred to him.

I led the other three up to him, and I asked, “What you be about?”

He sneered, “We’re the Vice Lords.”

He looked me up and down, and asked, “What you be about?”

I said, “Jesus Christ.”

And my friends and I all waited for the response.

Everyone wants to be “about” something, to be “with” someone, and where I grew up this was literally a matter of life and death. I knew guys growing up who had experiences remarkably similar to mine. They would be surrounded by a gang, just like we were that night, and when asked, “what you be about?”

Except they didn’t know what to say.

Those guys were beat up.

For whatever reason, The Vice Lords left us alone that night. I shook hands with the leader, and my friends with the guys who surrounded us. I don’t know this for sure, but I think it’s because they respected us. I think it’s because we were “about” something.

Being about Jesus is different than being about anything else, because Jesus is our creator. He knows what is best for us. He promises us a life of purpose and deep peace if we follow him.

What are you “about”?

If you are “about” Jesus, are you willing to stand up for him, even when it costs you something? Taking a stand makes us vulnerable, but if we claim to know Jesus Christ, His compassion for the hurting will rub off on us.

Question: What are you “about”? Are you willing to stand up for it?