I wrote this letter to my friend, Joe Batchelder, who encourages me every week.


One of the things I most appreciate about you is your willingness to help. It doesn’t matter what day it is or what time it is, what the chore is or who it’s from, every time I see you, you’re helping others. Mostly I think you enjoy it, but there have been times when—judging from the look on your face—you’d rather be licking bees than lending a hand. What’s cool is that you help anyway. You always do. Somehow, you’ve made yourself into a one-man support system without ever being smooshed into a door mat.

And yes, I’ve been taking notes.

When I was a kid my grandfather used to tell me the true measure of a man was what he did in secret. “Integrity,” said Papa,” was what you did when nobody was watching.” Turns out, he wasn’t the only Papa who said this, but I heard him repeat it enough times that it stuck. As a result, whenever I think of true religion—of faithfully following Jesus Christ—I can’t help but think of our requirement for secret obedience.

Christ is our Lord when we live for him in the absence of consequence.

Consequence. That’s a big word. My litmus test for having a right heart is to always ask myself if I’d live any differently if all my theology turned out to be false, if there really was no God, and if there really was no heaven or hell.

But I wouldn’t live differently. I might feel differently, but it’s a poor sort of man who only does good because he’s terrified God can’t wait for him to be bad.

You’re one of the good ones, and I’m happy to report that your goodness will not only go rewarded in the next life, but has been remarked in this one.

You make us all want to be better.

The author of Hebrews tells us to offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,[1] which includes not only good deeds but good speech, not only righteous living but righteous talking and righteous thinking. The author explains that the reason we’re meant to live differently from the world is that “we do not have an enduring city, but are looking for the city that is to come.”[2]

That’s you. In the quintessential words of the small town xenophobe, “You ain’t from around here, are ya?” You have made your home in this city, but you belong to the City of God, to the People of God, and to God himself.


[1] Hebrews 13.15-16.

[2] Hebrews 13.14.