Keys to the Kingdom by Carolyn Tucker
I’ve watched many a Western and I have come to the conclusion that the cowboy is my choice of hero. Besides my Dad, John Wayne is my favorite cowboy. On the silver screen, Wayne’s character was a gutsy man of few words, but the words he spoke had unrivaled authority. If the idiot didn’t believe him, he quickly made a believer out of him. In the real world, being a rancher ain’t for sissies — it’s a lot of hard work with branding, feeding, building and repairing fences, etc. Branding livestock, especially cattle, has been a tradition for hundreds of years. The brand is usually burned onto the hip which identifies the owner, dissuades rustlers, and is an important type of identification that’s difficult to tamper with. Before the use of fences, cattle from neighboring ranches often mingled, so it was important to know which cattle belonged to which rancher.
Believers aren’t physically branded, but we’re identified as being genuine Christ followers by our love. Jesus said, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are My disciples — when they see the love you have for each other“ (John 13:35 MSG). We are Christ’s ambassadors and we represent God and His love everywhere we go. The world is looking for love in all the wrong places. However, when unbelievers bite the bullet and actually go to church, they’re sometimes introduced to religious rules and regulations instead of love. So if they leave the building without being introduced to Jesus or experiencing a friendly welcome, that makes the devil want to do a victory hoedown.
One way we love others is to show a kindly interest in them. If we’re serious about walking in love, the Holy Spirit will guide us in creative ways to be loving. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:16, 22-23 NLT). These “things” enable believers to love others, but Satan tries his best to rustle them from us. We have to stand our ground, keep the gates locked, guns loaded, and retain what’s rightfully ours.
The devil is lower than a snake’s belly and his main job is to steal, kill, and destroy us in spirit, soul, and body (Ref. John 10:10). We must take authority over the enemy in the name of Jesus and stand firmly on the Word of God. Believers have what it takes to love others. We just need to put it to use and start loving on people — because our testimony depends on it! That’s who we are, that’s what we do, and love is our invisible brand.
Love is what sets Christ followers apart from the rest of the world. I don’t want the chuck wagon of my heart to be cold and empty. I want a heart that’s so branding-iron hot with God’s love that I can’t keep it to myself. There’s acres of lost, hurting, and lonely people searching for love, hoping someone will get off their cutting horse and tend to them.
In my Bible, the following scriptures are under the heading of “Loving One Another:” “…God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world” (1 John 4:16-17 NLT). When we live like Jesus, we love like Jesus.
The Key: We’re branded and equipped to love, so let’s get out on the range and do it.