New Forest ponies run free.
Owned by ‘Commoners’ they are rounded up each year so that their owners can check on their health. Although the practice is changing (to microchipping) many of the ponies have been branded to identify them. All will have their tails clipped to a specified pattern so that it can be proved that fees have been paid by their owners.
Although the concept of ownership of animals is largely accepted, ownership of people is something we take a stand against.
This makes me wonder about the Christianise phrase ‘I belong to Jesus’. Does it make a difference that it is something that we willingly do? Jesus doesn’t force himself on us, but ‘stands at the door and knocks.’ (Rev 3:20) It is up to us to open the door, accept Him and allow Him to direct our lives.
As Christians, although we shouldn’t have a physical mark identifying us as belonging to Christ, there should be something that others can spot easily. What is it in your life? Does the language you use change? Do you demonstrate the love that Christ has for you by loving the unlovable in front of you? Do you put others first, allowing them to develop into all that God has for them?
The bible says that others will know we are Christians by the way we love one another. (John 13:35). I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to love those I agree with. I spend time with those that share similar interests and invest in relationships with these people.
What is more difficult is loving those that have different interests and beliefs. That means others that identify as Christians as well as those who don’t. How we relate to others who practice their faith in a different way to us is really important. I would go so far as to suggest that it is even more important than the way we relate to those who have no faith at all. Whether they care to admit it or not, those that have no faith are watching those who profess to follow Jesus. They want to know if we actually believe what we say we do. Are we celebrating what others are doing, even if it is different to the way we would do it?
We say that we don’t care where people go to church as long as they do go, but are we secretly judging others that don’t come to our church?
Are we allowing the love of Jesus to permeate every part of our lives? We may not be physically branded as Christians (even though I wonder if that would make us act more like Christians sometimes?) but the way we love people should make it easy for people to know to whom we belong.