Birthmarks are nature’s way of making one person look different from all the rest. Many birthmarks are hidden, while some are exposed to the view of others. In certain cases, these pigmentations can be quite noticeable and become a distinguishing characteristic of the individual. The best birthmark is the one received when we are born into the family of God. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are marked for life! It makes us different and others notice.
Branding is another mark of distinction. One of the loveliest gifts I ever received was a Precious Moments figurine of the Sheep and the Shepherd’s Mark. It stands as a constant reminder of how Christians have been set apart for Christ. The little statue shows a lamb with trusting eyes looking over his shoulder and into the eyes of the Shepherd who is holding a hot branding iron in his hands. He is poised to sear his mark into the hind side of the small sheep. One’s eye is drawn to the end of the branding iron where the image of a cross is displayed. Soon the sheep will bear on his body the mark of his owner.
The cross of Calvary is the mark of Christ. It symbolizes how the Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep. It tells how he died, how he reigns and offers hope of his return. When the world sees a cross, they recognize it immediately. How exciting it is to wear the mark of our Master. The cross is the brand of ownership; the mark of love.
I would that others might see, the marks of Jesus in me.
For they will not believe, if they do not perceive,
The marks of Jesus in me.
This mark of love sets us apart and should be obvious to all. It should cause others to sit up and take notice of how different we have become. The brand seared into our hearts makes us distinct from the rest of the world. From the moment of submission to the Redeemer, it should be obvious. The One who died on the cross to redeem the whole world becomes our Owner, Manager, King, Provider─our all! We wear his mark in the knowledge that we are loved. More so, we want the whole world to know to whom we belong!
We also need to be marked with the attitude of Christ. From the cross, Jesus said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). When we are marked as belonging to Christ, we must go and do likewise. We forgive as we are forgiven; love as we are loved; and give expecting nothing in return. We love our enemies and do good to those who treat us with unkindness. These attitudes will distinguish us as unique. We will bear the mark of Christ himself.
You are branded with love, so leave your mark wherever you go! Let others clearly see the Christ who lives inside you. He who marks you will make a mark on them. And may you display fully the branding of Jesus Christ: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. This will truly make you re-MARK-able.
Commissioner Marilyn D. Francis is Territorial President of Women’s Ministries for Canada and Bermuda. Her husband, Commissioner William W. Francis, is the Territorial Commander. Commissioner Marilyn Francis is an accomplished vocalist and pianist. She has produced an audio recording of vocal and keyboard improvisation of hymns and gospel songs titled Just a Closer Walk. Commissioners Francis have two adult children, Captain William Marshall and Susan Marjorie, plus six grandchildren.