God Created Us to be Others-Centered & Inter-Connected
"The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.'"
"And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be. But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body."
1 Corinthians 12:16-20
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
Clearly, the Bible has a lot to say about God’s design for humanity and his relationship with them, but it also lays out a detailed picture of God’s design for human relationships with one another. There are fifty-nine “one-another'' passages in the New Testament that give direct and specific instructions to believers about how they are called to relate to one another. These are a reflection of how God has loved us and they are meant to be lived out, not just memorized. All of these commands can be summarized under the overarching idea that God designed relationships to be others-centered and interconnected.
From the very beginning, God did not create humans to be autonomous, but instead to be heavily invested in a community of other people. This is true for all relationships, but Christians are called to especially exemplify this in the church (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12). The picture presented in 1 Corinthians 12 is one of an interconnected body that is dependent on the other parts of the body to function and all of them being held together by the head, Christ. This description is a picture of God’s church where every member of the community has a vital role to play for the church to function well. There is no picture of the church where some people play a role while others sit and just observe. This means that the church should be full of people looking to find their function and be committed to their role, and if someone doesn’t show up and play their role, the body will be handicapped in some way. God’s picture pre-supposes that its members are highly committed and ready to prioritize others.
God created and designed us to be able to love others. This design means that living a life that is others-centered is the highest fulfillment we can experience and gives us genuine purpose. Paul says in Philippians 2, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil 2:3-4).
We are called to live lives that prioritize the needs of others. Practicing loving others through these one-another commands assumes that there is a high level of face-to-face relating, that we meet regularly, and that we consider one another outside of our time together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Screen time can inhibit all of these practices – after all, nothing ends a deep conversation quite as fast as someone taking out their phone and scrolling through social media!
Questions for Reflection:
1. In what ways do you pursue living out God’s design of being others-centered and inter-connected?
2. How have you seen these values enhance your own individual life?
3. In what ways do you think screen time could have an effect on being others-centered? Inter-connected?