More Than Us +

With the changes to my blog, I’ve decided to start writing more about my faith and my belief in Christ. This won’t change much, but I do want to point out at the beginning of these posts that they are specifically meant for my Christian brothers and sisters, but everyone is absolutely still welcome to partake in conversation, to read, to enjoy, to see what struggle I have and hopefully to find hope that I am still fighting. I won’t be upset if you skip out on posts like these, they will always be clearly marked with a + in the title, but I want you to know that no matter what I say below, you are welcome to talk to me about it. I’d love to hear from you. Especially if you have further questions.

I love to learn.

-AT


“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Galatians 1:10 ESV

I’ve had this piece on my mind for months now, and it seems as if every time I sat down to write it something drew me away. I think because I have such a hard time accepting my own failures and my own setbacks.

This year we have experienced more conflict and strife among us than I have ever seen. It wasn’t this bad during Obama’s presidency, at least not in my circles. Seeing and hearing the chaos and strife from others firsthand really opens your eyes to the brokenness of our world, and it’s never been more apparent to me than it was in 2020. Between COVID-19, the attacks on the Black Community and the Riots, topped with the looming threat of Murder Hornets that never cashed out we’ve been outright strapped to the top of the RV this year and we are getting ready to roll down a mountain.

Over the year, with the circumstances I mentioned above I’ve been trying to search deeper for answers to the things that I need answers for, and I’ve realized along the way that I am painfully ill equipped to answer any questions. I am a bit too foolish, a bit too ignorant and a bunch too misguided to really be a steering force for anyone, which is funny because that’s what I initially set this blog up to do.

See, back in 2014 I was a whole different person and the growth I’ve gone through in the last six years has really shown over the last six months. I’m still not great at going to the Bible to study or research, I’m actually horrible at researching most things. I happen to stumble into a lot of thoughts and concepts which then kind of soak me up into them and I almost become them as a result. When I was a youngin’ and was up to no good all the time I embraced this hippy mentality and believed in peace and only peace, but I was still a liar and a cheat, I held my own opinions above pretty much everyone and that turned me into a pretty sour egg over time. Eventually mentalities like that become unsustainable and you crash and burn, hard.

Pretending to be happy has its own weight, but I speak about that often. Today I want to speak about being better. You know, better than Elon Musk at keeping my mouth shut, better at raising my dog than other people. Better at managing my money. Better at accepting my setbacks (be they physical or emotional or mental.) You can take your pick, we all struggle with this kind of competitive mentality to some degree.

This is where Galatians really started hitting me hard. I was doing some research for this post and kept finding stuff from Galatians that spoke to the larger message that I wanted to write about here.

“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.”

Galatians 6:4 ESV

I spend a lot of time comparing myself to people I love or admire. I have to admit it honestly takes up most of my waking hours. I wish I was better at gaming, writing, reading, listening, singing, playing music, understanding, working studying, living, loving, being patient and being a good person. I can think of specific examples for each of these moments where I worked hard, I mean way too hard, to be better than these people at whatever thing I was anxious about that day.

I really wanted to be known as something among the people in my life. I held onto the moniker of Polar Bear King (I still do, to be honest.) because it uniquely identified me over others. I’m “the writer” in my group of friends despite the fact that many of us write to varying degrees, and many have written things much better than I have. I wanted to be the musician among us for a long time and worked to be the best. I wanted to earn these fictitious accolades because for some reason they called out to me as if they were medals I could earn and display proudly.

The finny thing is that to this day, not one person has come up and said “Hey aren’t you that writer/musician/poet/whatever?” I don’t hear that people point out specifically how often I am kind, or gracious, or wise, or loving, or understanding. Most of the time people just know me as who I am and I had a deep seeded problem with that for a lot of years.

It wasn’t until I head this quote somewhere, maybe I made it up in my sleep, I don’t know, but regardless it changed the way I think about myself and others. It changed the way that I view the world as a whole, to be honest with you.

“Jesus doesn’t ask us to be better than our neighbor. He doesn’t ask us to be better friends, better people. He calls us to be more than we are. More loving, more gracious, more wise, more caring.”

I looked for a long time to cite those specific moments in The Bible and never really found it, but I did find this…

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Philippians 2:3 ESV

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually picked up my bible, favoring instead to study online when I have these sparse thoughts that I want to expand upon. This thought was no different.

It came to me as I wondered why we have taken to infighting and quarreling amongst ourselves at the behest of the world? Are we as Christians not supposed to be unified under the banner of Christ?

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV

By this verse, we should seek to be of the same mind. Well, what is the same mind? Obviously God designed us with the ability to think for ourselves, it is the cornerstone of our humanity. It would be a shame if we all thought the same way, no?

No.

The hallmark of our humanity is both our greatest asset in the secular world and our greatest weakness because it allows us to fall in the gradient of idealism which we find ourselves at now. Where we hold ourselves at a higher standard because we are “fighting for what is right” regardless of how we do it.

See, this came to me after months of seeing other self proclaimed Christians who were out attacking people for opposing ideals, who were debasing the claims of others as mistruth and lies, accusing others of being indoctrinated and keeping their words short and venomous at one another for the sake of self fulfilling pride.

Whatever you stand for on this earth, is not the goal of wha tyou should stand for. I am just as guilty, I believe things about myself that do not contribute to the path God has set for me. I’m working on changing.

So, when you step out of your shell and into the world, or more likely for the foreseeable future, the even wider space of the Internet and you see someone who you are better than because you are more gracious, more humble, more loving, consider this: That the Lord knows our hearts better than anyone else ever could or ever will. He can see into the deepest recesses of our soul.

Are you really better at being loving when you cast judgment from the high throne of your social media feed? Are you being gracious when you condemn the government or those who use the government for aid? Are you helping the downtrodden, the sick, the poor, the wounded, when you are casting judgment on their day to day actions? Are you The Judge, that you can cast condemnation onto another for the way that they lived?

We can debate theology all day, what verses apply to politics and vaccines, government mandates and the duty of police. We can debate the morality of AOC or Trump or Bill Gates until the world burns to the ground. We can discuss the lies of the government in the confines of our home until the nuclear winters end but are we doing so with love? You know, the big one?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

John 13:34 ESV

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13 ESV

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

1 John 4:20 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 14:15 ESV

“Let all that you do be done in love”

1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Romans 13:8-10 ESV

I can tell you with absolute certainty that love has not been at the forefront of my mind, in most things.

I have not tried to be more kind lately, I’ve tried to be better at kindness than my peers.
I have not tried to be more patient. I’ve tried to be better at being patient than my peers.
I have not been more loving. I have tried to be better at loving.

Being better at loving isn’t our job. Loving is our job. The only way we can grow in that is by being more, not better. So I offer you this, go out and be more. Don’t be better. Better is not our calling. Our jobs as Christians are not competitions. We wouldn’t win if it was.

We were saved by grace. We were saved by ultimate love. Use that love, I know God gave us more than enough.

I’ll be there alongside you, learning, and trying to be more.

Not better.

“Let brotherly love continue.”

Hebrews 13:1 ESV


If you enjoyed today’s writing please share it on whatever social media outlet you enjoy the most. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out The Grimoire of Finality where you can read all of my incoming fiction writing. (It still has that new blog smell.)

I hope something I’ve said made a difference in your life, and please always remember…

Life is not meant to be awful.

Catch me on social media if you’d like to get more info/updates on what is soon to come!

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook

@alvatobiasbooks

Salt & Iron Productions

(On Facebook)

-AT

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