Do Big Ideas have the power to change the world? Your world? My world?
Years ago, when I was studying at the med school for lab technicians, we had to go to a plant and work there for a period of time. Funny, to this day I’m not sure what was the purpose behind this exercise. It was a pharmaceutical plant and we had to package medicine into these carton made packages. The same movements for hours and hours. Not a dirty job, but totally uncreative. It didn’t require hardly any intellectual or other faculties, except to be physically fit and present. You were just a human machine, repeating the same movement for a set amount of time, at a certain speed. I felt claustrophobic. I felt like I wanted to punch someone in the face. On top of that we weren’t going to get paid. It was probably a neat way for the lazy communist director of this state owned plant, to make up for lost quotas. It was definitely an Orwellian experience. Years later, when I went to the army to serve the 2 year mandatory service every male in Bulgaria was subject to, the army felt very much the same way. Wasted time. Wasted human energy. It made me extremely mad.
To my shock, a good number of my classmates didn’t mind doing this job. They saw nothing wrong with it. The whole time I was thinking about all the things I could have been doing – reading books or doing something that was fun or at least benefited me in some way. It didn’t seem to matter to my classmates. But again, most of them weren’t reading philosophy and weren’t looking for the meaning of life, they seemed to have no questions, no dissatisfaction with what was going on around them.
They were happy to be small and insignificant and to work small and insignificant jobs, as long as they were safe.
I didn’t care too much about safe. I wanted to know “why”. I was looking for the Big Idea behind this thing we call life.
First I found out there are others out there who have had the same questions throughout human history. Even communism couldn’t hide this from people who had enough of a seeking mind. Then I began to connect with people who saw how broken and futile everything around us was.
It wasn’t until I turned 20, in the middle of my 2 year army stint, that I started reading the New Testament, to find out that so much of what I had been looking for, was already there. It was awesome to hear Jesus confronting the big questions. Someone who spoke about these things way back.
Christianity is a Big Idea.
It’s a soul-saving faith, it’s a life-giving experience, it’s a way of being.
But it’s also a Big Idea. We live in a generation desperately in need of a Big Idea. They don’t just need a soul-saving message, it needs to cut deeper that just addressing the existential issues each one of us has. It has to be a Big Idea, too!
Stop for a moment and think about Matthew 28:18-20.
Jesus, freshly resurrected from the dead, is ready to share his plan of action with his most faithful. They’re ready, waiting to hear about the angels coming and rooting the bad guys out of Jerusalem and Rome.
That would have been epic to witness!
But instead, Jesus shares with them his Big Idea!
“Go and disciple all peoples!”
Since the nation-state concept wasn’t around at that time, the word “ethnos” in the original language might best be translated as “peoples” – the distinct conglomerates of people, clustered around similar ethnicity, culture and geography. People groups with various forms of social structures, unwritten codes of ethics, religion and values. A sea of human energy, ready to be aligned with the Life Giving King of Kings!
And all this was now placed on the shoulders of 11 relatively young fellas, who had just witnessed their formerly dead leader walk through the wall of their little church building.
There’s something magnetic, exhilarating, overwhelming and completely irrational about Big Ideas!
Big Ideas is the stuff revolutions are made of.
Big Ideas in science change our whole human experience. Electricity, surgery as a way to cure conditions, the antibiotic, the division of labor, brand-management.
All these Big Ideas have produced big results.
What about Christianity?
Have we belittled our Christian pursuit only to self? Wounded at childhood at home, abused by dependency relationships, neglected, grappling in our search for significance, addictive, hedonistic, making ends meet – this described so many today.
Do they have the hearts, eyes and ears to hear the Big Idea the 11 heard that day on Mount Olivet?
They didn’t just receive an order. They didn’t go to work as if the nations were some assembly line. They didn’t succumb to the pressure for survival and the existential needs of their own families. They didn’t exchange freedom for security.
They took the risk. They were sold out. They saw the Big Idea. They felt it. They embraced it. They live for it. Most of them died for it the violent death of martyrs.
Anyone out there hearing and seeing the Big Idea?
Ekklesia, the Church – city within city, nation within nation, people within people. Salt of the earth, light of the world. All or nothing. Life or death.
We have a Big Idea to live for…and die for, if needed!