No trace camping is antithetical to the gospel and so my kids are under strict instructions to ignore the injunction. For the Christian man or woman, the goal is not to avoid interaction with the world, but to beautify it by adorning it with the gospel.
This was the Apostle Paul’s charge to Titus. Namely, that instead of going around being disobedient thieves, we are to live in such a way,
…that in everything we may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour (Titus 2:10)
More footprints, not less, that’s what we need around here (Romans 10:15).
And so, we have a standard motto in our home, “Wherever you go, whatever you do, into every room you enter, do or say something—even just one thing—to make that place more lovely and more beautiful than it was before you got there.”
This was the work Adam was given to do. He wasn’t called to sit on the edge of Eden and stare at God’s garden. He was told to tend it, touch it, to make Eden flourish, to multiply its beauty so that it filled the earth.
The basic message of our earthly overlords is that man is an evil and destructive force who wrecks everything he touches and so he must be contained. Keep off the grass, don’t pat the whales, stay out of the forest, don’t feed the raven, stay out of the pond.
To be fair, there is enough truth in the accusation to give it traction. We litter our beaches, poison our ponds and break hearts.
The fact of our sinful nature invites a saviour, someone who will deliver us from the carbon-based wrecking balls we are told we are before we wreck everything completely. And our overlords, having driven home the message of our wickedness to their advantage, are more than happy to step in and save the day.
And so we are urged to hand over our money, our freedom and more so that they can fence off our existence and limit our coming-and-going in this world.
This is nothing new, as the Apostle Paul once noted,
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulation—
“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?
These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23)
According to the wisdom of the world, salvation comes about by removing man from the scene, forbidding him to interact with the world around him. Diseased, he must be isolated.
In the gospel, the solution is not to remove man but to redeem and renew him. The gospel deals with the ugly wound by renewing and adorning mankind with the gospel of grace and truth.
The solution is not, “hands-off”, but “wash your hands in the shed blood of Christ and get back to work”. Get to work making this world lovely by adorning every word and deed with the loveliest thing that has ever entered it: The Man Jesus Christ and the Gospel of His Grace.
This does not require you to go around quoting the Bible every time you lift a hammer, but rather using your hammer in a way that builds and beautifies.
It does not mean you go about nailing yet another Footprints poster to the bedroom wall. It means applying, in word and deed, the whole counsel of God to the room you are currently in so that it becomes a more lovely place for everyone to be.