Sometimes I think it”s funny how we fall in love with name brand products. Comparing say the name brand Contact for colds with the generic head cold medicine we find they are exactly the same. Yet there are many who will only buy the name brand. There is something to be said about reputations and the power of advertising. The name brand always costs more because in reality the company has to pay more in advertising fees to make us believe their product is better. It doesn’t seem to matter what the truth is in advertising. It is about if the companies can get their products out there in the public eye in a good way. Can they make the public believe that their product is better whether it is or not? Public opinion controls if the product and the company will be successful. Putting a brand out in the market that people like will lead to sales and more sales. At the same time if a brand falls out of favor it invariably will die.
When watching recent presidential elections I am struck by one thing. Instead of the candidates making statements of their strong points that would be of benefit for the position, they seem to use all of their energies cutting down the other candidate. It gets to be more of a scare tactic that they are selling to the general public. If they can brand that candidate in the public mind as a person who would be a “scary” president they have succeeded.
I think it was when I was eight or nine years old that a popular western was playing every week called Branded. Maybe if you are old enough you will remember the show too. It starred Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a civil war officer who was accused of being a coward and running away from a massacre at Bitter Creek, where he was the lone survivor. In the opening each week we see McCord stripped of all of his stripes. The General actually rips them right off of his uniform. Then he rips the buttons off McCord’s uniform one by one. Finally he breaks Mccord’s sword over his knee and throws half of it out through the gate. McCord is left with a torn up uniform to walk out of the gate in disgrace. As he leaves the gate is shut behind him and he picks up the half of the sword and examines it. It’s almost like he is examining broken dreams and his broken reputation at the same time. The song that is played tells us that the charges were not true. The episodes are about McCord being a wanderer and using his engineering and army skills in many situations to help the people he comes into contact with. His reputation always seemed to precede him as someone always recognizes him as the coward. However heads are usually turned as McCord demonstrates courage that suggests that he was branded wrong.
Another show with the same theme of someone being branded wrong was “The Fugitive”. The show was about Dr. Richard Kimble who was wrongly convicted of killing his wife. He escapes and is running from the law while at the same time trying to find the real killer. Along the way he comes in contact with many people he is able to help. He has to stay one step ahead of the law as they are on a nationwide manhunt. In their eyes he is just an escaped killer. The similarities of Branded and The Fugitive are that both of the men were innocent. Yet in the public eye they were guilty.
I think the thing that caught my eye and made me remember “Branded” through the years was the beginning. It was so stunning watching that man week after week getting stripped of all of his dignity. Week after week I watched the same scene as his stripes were ripped off and his buttons torn off one by one. To a young kid it was alarming and I really couldn’t comprehend why they were doing such an unjust thing to someone.
Now as I am much older I realize that we all are branded one way or the other. Whether it is true or not everyone has some kind of opinion of us. We may be branded as a good person or a bad person. We may be branded for things that happened in our past. However we are branded with the public, the brand may in reality be totally untrue. When someone comes to Christ they are changed. The Bible says in II Corinthians 5:17 “If any man is in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things have become new.” Maybe you were branded years ago as a different person than you are today. Maybe Christ has changed you and the old brand doesn’t fit anymore. By seeing some of the same people who branded you there may be a change of opinion and a different brand applied! The very fact that your old brand doesn’t fit anymore is the reason you can become a vibrant testimony for the Lord! Think about the apostle Paul and how when his life was changed people were amazed! “Isn’t this the same guy who was killing the Christians in times past?”, they wondered. With such an amazing turnaround questions are asked and the source of such a change can be revealed! I have found that the most dynamic testimonies of God’s love and grace are from people who were changed the most! People that were going rapidly in the wrong direction until a sudden turn around. People who were branded one way but now are being re-branded by their new actions and testimonies!
The thought occurred to me while thinking about this branded theme that Jesus Christ was branded too. He was branded as God Almighty, a prophet, or a trouble maker who was a threat to the government. These were the three major brands people saw in Christ. Because the people in power believed the third opinion, Christ was stripped of all of his dignity just like Jason McCord was. McCord was left to walk away a disgraced man while Christ was beaten and killed. Christ died for the very same people who killed him. In both cases a man was charged for something he was innocent of. Yet even as he was dying Christ was forgiving. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” As a kid I was shocked by the injustice of the opening segment of Branded every week. As an adult I see a parallel of how Christ was stripped of his dignity because of the untrue brand that was given to him. In the end the devil’s lie resulted in God’s compassion for all of us!
Click below to see the opening of Branded. Because of it’s harshness it is in my mind all these years later!