Most of our culture is built around the idea of transaction: “I will do this for you if you do this for me.” The focus of our transactional culture is self. It is rooted in the deep belief that happiness is achieved in focusing on self-good.
In contrast, the focus of the “abundant life” Jesus came to give is the other. The Bible tells us that Jesus created human beings as other-focused. The first few chapters of the Bible state directly that human beings are made in the image of God. The God the Christian Scriptures declare is a communal God of self-giving love.
A fundamental tenant of orthodox Christianity is that God is tri-une. 1 John makes a clear statement about the nature of God stating, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The statement “God is love” describes that God in his very nature is a community of self-giving love. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always existed in perfect union giving and receiving love.
Throughout human history, God has manifested himself as supreme Giver. Therefore, when scripture says humans are made in the image of a God who is love, this means that we are made to be givers and receivers of love. We are designed to have our eyes fixed upon the good of our neighbors. Humanity is communal, with an orientation that is directed outward. It is only sin that turned us inward.
This belief has the power to transform marriages, families, communities and cultures. Imagine what our homes, neighborhoods, schools and cities could look like if built around self-giving love, not self-glorification.
God created the world with love at its center; so human leadership as a created reality should be loving, passionate, and self-giving, reflecting the nature of the One who created all.