By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
Next to me was a metal tub roiling with a mixture of gasoline and dry ice. Set inside were several numerical brands being super-cooled for the process of cold branding bulls. The process causes their hair to fall out and then grow back with the pigment forever changed to white.
It’s thought to be a less painful form of branding verses hot branding that scars the hide to make the brand.
I was waiting for everyone to gather together for a cowboy church message as the tub was boiling away and it got me thinking about the guys that actually will shape a coat hanger into a brand, heat it in a campfire and brand themselves.
While it’s not an extremely common practice, it’s certainly tied most closely to the cowboy and rodeo communities and it becomes a pretty clear way to show to the world around you that you’re a cowboy.
When we become Christians, followers of Christ whose lives are changed by a saving faith in Jesus, we’re permanently changed by that experience the way the bulls’ hair was going to be permanently changed by that cold branding.
But there’s no outward mark on our bodies that shows we have been changed and while a brand shows what cattleman a herd belongs to, there’s no outward physical change that shows we now belong to Jesus.
John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
In this chapter of John, Jesus is describing us as sheep belonging to him and that no one can take us from him. We belong to him.
There is no need for us to be marked for Jesus to have to prove to anyone that we are his and that no one can take away the eternity Jesus bought for us with his death on the cross.
But, we still can’t help but outwardly show in other ways that we belong to Jesus. The Bible refers to that is fruit—the words and actions we carry out because of how much our salvation means to us and is changing us.
Matthew 7:16-18 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Jesus is warning here against false teachers, letting us know that we can tell who they are but the fruit they produce. Bad will come about from a false teacher but those who belong to Jesus are going to produce good fruit. Sure, Jesus may not have put a brand on our arm to show we belong to him but we won’t be able to hide it either through our words and actions, especially if we carry out his commands to tell others about him and to love others the way he loves us.