Happy Moltmann Monday, all! Today’s selection is from The Politics of Discipleship and Discipleship in Politics. Moltmann is talking about political theology and how the messianic hope of Christ has real-life implications:
The religious question of modern times is: ‘What may I hope for?’…The universal question about the future concentrates here on the question of the ‘coming one’ who will turn calamity to wholeness of salvation and lead people from oppression to freedom.
When Jesus shows himself to be the coming one through his gospel to the poor, his healing of the sick and his forgiveness of sinners, and when he is believed in and known as the coming one by those people who are affected, then the whole future of salvation and the kingdom of freedom must be expected from him…There he reveals himself as the Christ because he makes present their true future…
…If Jesus is the anticipator of God then he must simultaneously and unavoidably become the sign of opposition to the powers of a world which is opposed to God and to this world’s laws which are closed to the future. Because he proclaimed the kingdom of God to the poor he came into conflict with the rich. Because he gave the grace of God to sinners, he contradicted the laws of the pious, the Pharisees and the Zealots. Because he revealed God’s lordship to the lowly and oppressed, Pilate let him be crucified in the name of the Roman Caesar-god.
Eschatological anticipation thus inevitably brings forth historic resistance. Salvation can enter the situation of misery in no other way; liberation can enter into a world of oppression in no other way.
So, two things here. First, you’ll see that Moltmann points out that we not only CAN expect much from Jesus the Christ, but that we OUGHT to expect much from him. In him lies “the whole future of salvation.” This doesn’t mean our lives will be perfect, but it does mean we have big, hopeful, radical dreams and expectations about the future in which Christ will make things new and aright.
The second point is that because Jesus is the coming one who announces the fullness of this new way, this righteous Realm/kingdom, inevitably it will follow that Jesus–and, by extension, his followers–will come up against the very real resistance to these radical practices of grace and freedom in the world. Jesus is “the sign of opposition to the powers of a world which is opposed to God.” That isn’t to throw the world under the bus, so to speak. The world is created good by God. Moltmann is using the word “world” here in the way Paul often uses it- not as a blanket rejection of how bad creation is, but as a word that calls into question the systems, political realities, structures of power and national governments which are all too often in opposition to the laws of the realm/kingdom of God. It is these powers that Jesus resists- and these powers, which seek to oppress the poor, freely offer grace, heal the sick, forgive the sinner, that his followers are meant to imitate in their own lives.
So what may we hope for? Lots. Big, huge, powerful, redeeming things. But we should also know that to hope for those things is to live into their reality, and we do so by following the way of Jesus even when we come up against the very real resistance the powers of the world have against it.