They’re here, they’re there, they’re everywhere! Fact is, we’ve been noticing them around the house for almost two years now. They appear on the oven door, the lower part of our windows and the lower portions of the cabinet doors. They appear to be human like only on a very smaller scale. What are these mysterious markings you ask… well, we call the Spencer tracks! Spencer is our adorable almost two-year old grandson. The mystery is solved but the adventure is just beginning for this little guy is ALL BOY if you know what I mean. Full of energy and into everything at a pace that makes the energizer bunny look like Tim Conway in the shuffling old man skit! Just like little Spencer leaves behind evidence of his travels throughout the house so do we leave behind evidence of our travels through life!
One of my favorite images of the early church is found in the fourth chapter of Acts as a handful of Christ followers are brought before the authorities and examined for their behavior. What the religious leaders find in their lives is what it would behoove every Christ follower today to reflect in their influence on the world around them. Peter and John had offered testimony regarding a man who God had healed at the temple. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” In those verses we find a beautiful picture of evidence in their lives that cannot be disputed. First I see their boldness in the face of their detractors. It was uncommon for men such as these to take such a stand for their faith in the face of persecution. They meant business! Secondly they saw the man that was healed and could say nothing against it. You talk about evidence. Whether they believed the men or not, whether or not they believed in Jesus or not, there was before them evidence they could not dispute. Lastly the verses tell us that these men reminded their persecutors of Jesus. What an honor! May we always remind those we meet of Jesus! An incredible honor don’t you think? To be thought of as bold and with clear and undeniable proof of your faith while at the same time reminding people of Jesus! What great tracks to leave behind! Ask any pastor who’s spent a career preaching funeral sermons. As families and friends gather to talk about their loved one, they almost never mention work or money, unless the stories are about how their loved one had used a job or their money in giving to others. Instead, the stories will come of fathers who read, or mothers who stopped to play, with their children. They’ll tell of vacations and days when they finally understood the sacrifice of a giving grandparent. They’ll tell of letters written, special days of worship, and of being loved. Strangely enough, it usually catches us by surprise to find that the things others considered most about us are not how successful we might have been, but rather, how much we loved them. But it is in loving others that we best show how we love God.
In one of the last parables in Matthew’s gospel we find the story of sheep, goats and the judgement. In the separating process of the account all parties wanted to know why they’d missed their reward because they were “goats,” or why they’d received their reward because they were “sheep.” In both cases, the deciding factor was whether or not those facing judgment had loved others. They either had or had not fed the hungry, satisfied the thirsty, housed the stranger, clothed the naked, ministered to the sick and visited those in prison. When it comes to judgment, Jesus shows us that we will be separated according to what we are. And what we are determines what we do. Jesus’ sheep follow His voice. They do what He does.
Everyone leaves a legacy. Good, bad, or even indifferent, we all leave footprints behind us. We will be remembered for our generosity or selfishness. Those who mourn us will talk about the ways we loved them, or the ways we neglected them. There’s only one way to leave a Christ-like legacy… to leave good footprints that will last. You cannot do this on your own. You cannot find life in loving God and loving your neighbor, because that is the Law. Scripture makes clear that the letter kills, but the gospel brings life. You see, you have to know the shepherd! Know him as your personal savior and let Him fill you with His Spirit, and then watch as He empowers and teaches you how to love Him and others. Spencer leaves his tracks and you’ll leave yours. What do you say… let’s leave some good ones!
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.