Community: Is There More to Life?

By Annie Harley

I was sitting down having coffee with a friend of mine a couple of months ago. He is a brilliantly-creative 20-something who is years ahead in his career path, thriving in his current job, and has numerous remarkable opportunities ahead of him.

One morning, in the thick of the global pandemic and working from home, he woke up, rolled over, and saw his alarm clock said 1pm. In the midst of the grogginess of waking up, his half-opened eyes noticed the South Florida sun pouring in the room, and he paused. An honest question ran through his mind, “Is there more to life than this?”

After a year like 2020, full of quarantining, working from home, online classes, job transitions, racial tension, the election, and finding new rhythms, the question my friend asked has most likely also crossed your mind. Is there more to life? There must be.

One of the most important things Jesus said when He was on Earth is found in the Book of John. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). Humans ability to have life in abundance, or the more to life, is one of the primary purposes that Jesus came to earth. A relationship with Him provides access to living in the reality of experiencing life in its fullness.

But how do you experience the more that God has for your life? Well, to put it simply, you have to get a new perspective.

You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your perspective.

I’m fully convinced that a relationship with Jesus changes everything. One of the most transformative aspects of following Jesus is the new perspective that you gain.

In the Book of Romans, Paul talks about the concept of being transformed by the renewal of your mind. I love the way the New Living Translation states this, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Changing the way one thinks is not an easy task. It requires commitment and discipline to change thought patterns. However, as Paul reminds us in Romans, we must allow God to transform our minds. God transforms our minds through spiritual disciplines such as Bible study, prayer, and solitude. As you commit to answer the questions of life with God, your perspective on your current situation begins to shift.

The more God has for you doesn’t necessarily mean your life will be easy. It doesn’t mean more money. It doesn’t mean who you voted for will get elected. It doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get accepted to your dream university, or that your marriage will be restored overnight. However, He promises to be with you through every moment in the journey (Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 139:7). He promises to give you peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:4–7; John 14:12). He promises to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Who am I? Where do I fit in? What am I made to do?

We ask ourselves these three primary questions which deal with identity, belonging, and purpose. These are the core questions that shape the human soul. The question of identity is introspective and personally connected to the individual, the concept of who they are. It is the “me” element of life. The second question of belonging is a question of exploration of us. This is about the quantity and quality of the relationships. The third question of purpose is a discovery of the world and how one can make a difference to impact others.

As previously mentioned, I’m fully convinced that a relationship with Jesus changes everything:

  • A relationship with Jesus changes your perspective on your identity. As you enter into a relationship with Him, your identity shifts and you become a child of God.
  • A relationship with Jesus provides a profound sense of belonging. Life was not made to be done alone. Not only does God say He will never leave you, you also are welcomed into a life-giving community of people whose lives have also been transformed by the gospel.
  • A relationship with Jesus should result in a new-found purpose. You begin to recognize that your primary purpose in life is to love God and love people.

One of the best places to practice spiritual disciplines is in the midst of a healthy community. Within a life-giving community, you’re provided a safe place to discover answers to the questions of identity, belonging, and purpose. A life-giving community is rooted in the Word of God, prayer, encouragement, and next steps.

A key to experiencing the more in life that God has for you is entering into community. Going to church is a great habit, but it just skims the surface of the life you could experience. When you’re in godly relationships, they help shift your perspective away from your current circumstances and back to Jesus.

In March of 2020, my friend and I started a small group. We didn’t plan this, but we actually started on the very first weekend of the stay-at-home order. We thought we would be meeting over Zoom for just the first week or two, but quarantine lasted much longer than anticipated and we have continued to meet online. Over the past 9 months, we have truly done life together.