I can still remember the smell of burning hide and the sound of bellowing calves. Regardless of my skills, or lack thereof, I relished every moment working cattle in central Texas as a youth on the Charlie Payne Ranch. But branding was always a treat (for me, not the calves) in that the temporary pain and lifelong permanency of the branding was an oxymoronic contrast — quick, but forever. And what made it unique was the nature of the ranch’s brand.
The purpose of a brand is to signify ownership, and Mr. Payne wanted to make sure he could see his brand from the road. Consequently, instead of searing a palm-sized mark on the hind quarter of the animal, his brand was a “CP” that covered the entire side of the cow from shoulder to flank. As swift as it was enduring, those cows now belonged to Charlie Payne.
In a similar way, we each have a brand, an imprint representing ownership. In Galatians 6:17b, Paul speaks of this imprint that Jesus had on him: “for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (NASB). These marks were visually perceived, but they were significant because of the soul-level ownership they implied. As Christians, we all have similar brand-marks. We have been purchased, ransomed, bought at a great price — the crucifixion of Christ. Now we belong to him, and the world can know, by our brand, whose we are.
Now we belong to him, and the world can know, by our brand, whose we are.
But a brand is not only a recognizable means of establishing ownership; it also conveys meaning.
There are no words on these logos, only shape and color. But we can identify all of their brand names because billions of dollars are spent yearly to make sure they are constantly and consistently in our sight.
These recognizable brands also invoke an emotion or opinion based on our experiences with these brands. Coca-Cola is selling memories — fond memories of our childhood, sporting events, friends, and family when the flavor of Coke was on our pallet. Starbucks is not selling $5 cups of coffee; they are selling vacations. Walk into any Starbucks and for a short while we are in a cool and hip java joint in Seattle. Promoted in such a way, we have a positive emotion or opinion about these brands.
. . . a brand is not only a recognizable means of establishing ownership; it also conveys meaning.
In essence, a brand is a reputation. The word, reputation, comes from two Latin root words that mean to “repeatedly consider.” As we repeatedly consider a product or person, a reputation is established. If a person lies often, those to whom they lie will begin to distrust them. If a person serves often, those who repeatedly consider their service will begin to think well of them. For the most part, a reputation is well deserved because of repetition.
Our personal brand is not unlike this. In Acts 6:3, the apostles instruct the new church to “select . . . seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” These men were chosen as the first deacons in the church for the purpose of assuring widows were not overlooked and served enough food during meals. The apostles recognized a good reputation as a prerequisite for service and leadership. They were men who had a good brand.
Once you and I are marked as a Christian, receiving the gift of his salvation, we are eternally his and internally different. Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) is at work in our eternal/internal branding; not our effort. Yet effort is required for our temporal/external brand to reflect the character and attitude of Christ. Because while your mark is for a season on earth, it’s apparent to all, and this is the brand we need to consider, develop, and cultivate.
. . . while your mark is for a season on earth, it’s apparent to all, and this is the brand we need to consider, develop, and cultivate.
Each of us has a brand, and it’s considered repeatedly by those who know Christ and those who don’t (see Titus 2:6-8, 2 Samuel 12:14a). So is your brand a gracious brand, a truthful brand, a serving brand? Is it such that you could say as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ”? Or does your brand reflect so poorly on your God that non-Christians make jokes about him because of it?
Our brand reflects on the Kingdom. It reflects on the Church. It reflects on our family. And it reflects on the Gospel. As the world perceives our brand, they make judgements about Christ based upon what they see. Our purpose in life, as presented to us in Romans 8:29, is to be Christ-like. So what is your brand? May it reflect well on his good news.
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