Over the past few months, we’ve watched three seasons of a series portraying a dysfunctional family and its ranch in Montana. John Dutton represents the third generation to own and operate this beautiful and extensive property.

Running and managing the ranch with its land and herds requires many workers. Some ranch hands they simply hire. They tend to work for a while and then move on. But others are especially selected and ‘invited’ to live and work permanently for John Dutton and the family.

None of these long-term workers are forced to belong. They are presented a choice and willingly accede. Upon making the decision to join, they undergo a ceremony in the presence of the rest of this select group. They bare their chests and receive a brand, marking them as John Dutton’s own.

The branded ones live and work together with the temporary hires. The outside world discerns no difference between them. But they are very distinct.

Having willingly pledged whole-heartedly to serve John Dutton, they no longer live for themselves.  If they doubt the need for or ‘rightness’ of an assignment, they might grumble among themselves, but they comply. They show their unswerving loyalty. John Dutton, for his part, takes good care of them, whatever the mishap or suffering they undergo. He treats them as part of the Dutton family, though not on par with his children who will inherit the ranch.

Christians, as well, belong to and serve an owner.  When we learned of the kingdom of God, when we were given eyes to see and a heart to know the one true and living God, we had a choice. We could accept the invitation into this new realm, or we could stay outside, living for ourselves and accepting whatever future consequences awaited us.

Crossing the threshold includes being ‘branded’ or sealed by the Holy Spirit.  Members of the ‘kingdom of light’ don’t bare a visible brand, but we do belong to someone else.

I’ve been comparing my outward behavior and attitude towards Jesus with that of those who belong to John Dutton.  The noticeable difference in their response and relationship to their boss contrasts with the hired men and women ‘just passing through’.

I wonder how someone would know that I belong to the Lord? Do my face, the rest of my body language, my words, my actions and reactions resemble Jesus at all? Or do I act like a hired servant who doesn’t love his master?

Just thinking.

In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. Ephesians 1:13 Amplified Bible