I wrote this for Andy and Kathy Ladwig, whom I love.


For as long as I’ve known you, you have striven for nobility, virtue, and grace. You have been quick to confess, quick to repent, and quick to start again. And again. You have refused to wallow. You resist the urge to cast blame. You accept responsibility and work tirelessly to make things right and keep the peace.

When I grow up, I want to be like you.

As Christians, we’re told that “our citizenship is in heaven.”[1] You’ve reminded me it’s not enough for us to know where our loyalty resides, but that others must see our citizenship in action. Our true citizenship is revealed in the way we live. God is glorified through what we actually do and say, in what we keep from doing and refrain from saying.

You know this. What’s more, you have proven you know this by the way you live. Your energy for living well proceeds from the fathomless well of God’s Spirit in you. You know what it means to “silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” by doing good[2] and counter accusations that you are evildoers who warrant prosecution.[3] You have repaid evil with blessing and insult with gentleness.[4]

In the scriptures, we’re told we are God’s emissaries to the world around us. We’re his “aroma,”[5] his “witnesses,”[6] and his “light.”[7] Yet many of us have either “abandoned of privatized” [8] our Christian faith. We have gone on doing good, but forgotten why.

This is a grave error. Civilization as we know it is “the product not only of man’s effort, but even more, of his good will.”[9] Yet there has to be more to our earthly lives than simply doing good deeds. We must connect what we do to who we are; even better, we must connect why we do what we do to God, to God’s plan to heal the world, and to God’s inexhaustible quest for reconciliation with all people.[10]

I was in Barnes & Noble the other day with a couple of friends, and one of them was leafing through books of poetry. She held up a book—I don’t remember the title or even the author—and showed me a single line poem. At first I pretended to be interested, but when I read the words they resonated. I’m not sure I’ve got them verbatim, but I definitely have the gist.

There will come a day when God will ask us, “Why didn’t you do better?”

You are my example for doing better, but you must always look to Christ to find yours. We must do more, be more, give more of ourselves, give more of our time, give more of our attention, until there is nothing left to give because there is nothing left to do, because God is “all in all.”[11]


[1] Philippians 3.20.

[2] 1 Peter 2.15.

[3] 1 Peter 2.11-15.

[4] Psalm 34.12-16.

[5] 2 Corinthians 2.15.

[6] Acts 2.32.

[7] Matthew 5.14.

[8] Um and Buzzard, Why Cities Matter, 108.

[9] Ellul, The Meaning of the City, 61.

[10]Matthew 5.16.

[11] 1 Corinthians 15.28.