I’ve come to associate “fresh tracks” with the title of my weekly devotionals. But as I drove into the driveway of our church recently I was greeted with “fresh tracks” of a different kind. The deep cuts left by someone’s four-wheeler activity in the front lawn sickened me. The ugly ruts criss-crossing the yard seemed like a desecration of sorts.
Earlier that morning, I had been reading in Matthew 26 of how Jesus stood firm during his arrest and trial. Judas, so identified with his traitorous deed that he is referred to as “the betrayer” (v. 49) still received the salutation of “Friend” from Jesus. The rest of his disciples deserted him, leaving him alone to stand before the Sanhedrin and endure one false accusation after another. It culminated with slimy spit, mocking slaps, sucker punches and demands for his death (v. 56-68). Now that’s desecration!
It’s a contempt that never really ended. Today, Christ’s body continues to be pummeled. Whether marred by tire tracks or graffiti, the target of vandals or an arsonist’s torch—physical damage to the church occurs throughout the world. That kind of destruction, however, can be repaired. It’s not the attacks launched against wood and concrete structures but against the body of believers who comprise the church that poses the greatest challenge. Will we—like Jesus—stand firm no matter what is being hurled against us?
Jesus warned us that identification with him would not win us popularity contests. He said if men hated him, they would hate us as well. But we live in a society that has elevated “being liked” to near idol status. We crave others’ approval and admiration. We love it when “all men speak well” of us even though Jesus cautioned us to beware of such longings (Luke 6:26). If we’re not careful, when someone criticizes the church we throw our hat in the ring to show how enlightened (and therefore likable) we are.
As long as we live, we will be in need of a Redeemer to clean up the residue of tire tracks and graffiti in our lives, in our churches. But if we follow Jesus and “stand firm to the end,” we will leave tracks that lead others to salvation…. and those are the kind of fresh tracks I want to be a part of.
How about you?