We live in a time where slogans such as these scream at us from all kinds of different places, urging us to make our lives count, change the world, think outside the box and make it happen.
As Christians, we often feel an even deeper urge to accomplish this, as our endeavours have far greater and more profound significance.
And then we find ourselves paralysed with where to begin. How to begin.
What is it that I can do to change the world? How does my contribution help make any difference? I tried once and it didn’t really have that much impact, but I did try!
In the face of this, we decided to look again at the life of Jesus of Nazareth, someone who lived out these slogans, before you could get the t-shirt. As we explored his life, we realised that he was a pretty influential figure in world history and yet he didn’t ever write a book, own a house, lead an army, build a business or anything else that we usually associate with greatness. In fact, he is probably most famous for his death and resurrection, but if you can look more deeply for a minute you will realise that there is much more to Jesus’ life and teaching than just those dramatic events.
What Jesus spent most of his time doing was talking about a new way of living and acting that he described as participating in ‘the Kingdom of God’. He talked about his dream for changing the world and said that we should live in a way that is contrary to how most people live. He spoke about creating a world where the hungry are fed, the rich share with the poor, those who are first in line go to the back of the line, and those who are always last in line move forward. He also said that we should love each other – including those people who are aggressive toward us, and that this was the Way we should live.
He sought to truly BE the change that he wanted to see in the world. As you can imagine, actually living this Way required a lot of personal sacrifice. Yet Jesus’ death and resurrection are a vivid reminder that our actions in this life count for the long term even though we might lose in the short term.
As we looked more closely at Jesus life, we noticed that there were a number of consistent themes in his actions and teachings. Things like loving your enemies, forgiving and holding possessions loosely. Revolutionary notions when moved from theory to action.
With this in mind, we realised that we knew a lot of this stuff and talked a lot about it, but struggled to actually put it into any kind of practice. As a result of our desire to want to do more than just keep talking about the impact and relevance of Jesus life to the world, we created a Big Year, a way of intentionally following the life of Jesus. Through taking on a set of challenges each month we would focus on living out one of the big themes of Jesus’ life and teaching.
We committed ourselves to finding a small crew of at least 3 people to do this with, and dedicating a whole year to practice living this Way. Each month we explored one of the big ideas that Jesus taught and lived, not simply through more discussion but through practical challenges that we could do in our everyday lives to embody this theme and be the change that we wanted to see.
We wanted to ‘act our way into a new way of thinking’. The Way of Jesus.
The other thing that we had observed from our exploration of Jesus’ life was that in all that he did and said around the major themes of his life, he maintained three key relationships as he called his followers to explore the Way.
He challenged them to consider what their relationship was with God, with those who were on the journey with him and finally how these things impacted the wider community and their world at large. As we reflected on this, we realised in our language, that this was a call to be a Monk, a Cheerleader and an Activist. Following the Way of Jesus was more than just any one of these relationships, it required all three. As we met with our crew to pursue these challenges, we tried to ensure that we would nurture each of these key relationships, with God, with our crew following the Way and with the wider world.
For us, this is what living the Way of Jesus would look like.
So a Big Year was born.
A commitment by a small group of people to spend a year actually living the way of Jesus and seeing where it would take us. How it would shape our relationship with God. How it would impact our community on the Way. How it might change the world.
From this starting point, some of our friends heard about what we were trying to do and wanted to join in the challenge. To assist them, and their crews that were all over Brisbane and beyond, we created a website where more people could access the challenges and, as with all technological change, it wasn’t long before an app was also created.
And so a Big Year Community was born, small groups of people seeking to live the Way of Jesus in all kinds of different settings and circumstances.
With this diversity, we realised that some of the challenges we were undertaking weren’t as helpful for some groups such as youth and school groups as well as for families. So, with the help of our Community, we created some alternate versions for youth and families so that in their unique context, they could try putting into practice the crazy principles of love, forgiveness and generosity.
Daring to believe that they can be the change that they want to see in the world.
We dare you to put aside one year to join us in this Big Year community, to practice acting out the things you say you believe in, and see if your thinking changes in the process and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of the world too.
Article written by Paul Wetzig, A Big Year. Find out more information on A Big Year website.
A note from us here at myYouthLeader: This is a great way of helping young people engage with who Jesus is, so we really encourage you to check this website out and sign up via the App.