Branding Iron March 2019
A very real reason that people misunderstand Christianity is because they look to Christians for verification of what the faith means. From the inside, it is easy for us to see that we are not the “testimony” that explains Christ. He was perfect, and we are not. Despite our attempts at perfection, we fall short and do so often. The person wondering about Christianity that sees us become angry, gets slighted in business, feels the competition in a deal, or senses a lack of caring, judges all of us based on what a few of us do. This is only natural because we too make decisions about offerings based on the people involved.
There is a lot of talk these days about branding. The term comes from putting a brand, or burned hair, mark on cattle. In the days of the frontier, cattle wandered the open range. Only at roundup time were they gathered together then separated into the individual owner’s care by looking at the brands. For this reason, the brands were individual and very important. Occasionally, bad people that wanted to steal cattle would add a second brand to change “bar A” to “5 bar A” for instance.
Today companies try to create logos, letterheads, signs, and insignias that are unique and give some hint about what they do. Even sole proprietors like doctors, dentists, and Realtors are “branding” themselves. There are image consultants and graphic designers calling, texting, and emailing to get that business on a daily basis in my world.
In a sense, the genuine perception of Christians as hypocrites, is like seeing a second branding iron applied. We say we are one thing but are perceived as something entirely different because of the way we appear to others in the world. For this reason, what we do is critical to the image, the brand, as Christians. Ushering at church on Sunday and dropping F-bombs in the hardware store or on the construction site on Monday does real damage. It literally could turn someone off to all that Christ has to offer. Isn’t it a shame that we hypocrites figure this out only after we have found the truth in Christ’s promises. Sometimes it takes years to get to that point.
The older I get the more I realize how a subtle change in my voice can have a positive or negative impact on another human being. The tone of my voice is almost always an effect of the experiences in my life. The full realization that Christ alone is the role model is almost as hard for me to understand as it is for someone who does not believe. Our responsibility is to Him. There is only one perfect relationship and that is Christ and how he loves us. Though we can get better at it, our relationship to Him will always be flawed by comparison. We can only try to get better. Knowing where we fall short is the beginning of that progress. He is here to help this process, and Lord knows we sure need all the help we can get to become the Real Deal.