Thursday, February 25, 2010
As long as cattle provided an income, rustlers existed. In the past, cattle could be stolen easier than today. The vast herds that freely roamed the open prairies proved hard to count and control. A few head here and a dozen there wouldn't be missed--at least, that's what some thought.
But if your corral contained cows with another man's brand on them, that's hard to explain. So most rustlers perfected the ability to brand-over steers with their own symbols. To combat this, the ranchers devised ways to secretly mark their cattle, such as with a decoy brand--a small mark placed on an animal's belly or other out-of-the-way place. They placed choice animals like this where they might be stolen, that displayed either large, easy-to-change brands or none at all. Such a cow found on other man's property could catch a thief. However, clever rustlers discovered the decoy brand and doctored it as well.
In a similar way, some religious folks think they can operate with a hidden brand. The offer a half-hearted commitment to Christ. For them, that proves ownership. When the roll is called up yonder, they'll expose their private mark and waltz into heaven, they believe. Meanwhile, they mix in the world, indulge its pleasures, and submerge attention to any heavenly allegiance. However, you can no more hide Jesus than you can conceal a buffalo in a bedroom. Just as the decoy cattle seldom fooled anyone, you'll leave yourself open to rustlers who'll want to change your brand.