Happy Moltmann Monday! In honor of my friend who is reading The Way of Jesus Christ today, here’s an excerpt from that work:
“The gospel is the light which salvation throws ahead of itself. It is nothing less than the arrival of the coming God in the word. We have to put it in these emphatic terms in order to be able to discern the gospel’s sacramental character: salvation runs ahead of itself and appears in the gospel; and the gospel is the beginning in word of the epiphany of the coming God. In the very act of its announcement, the messianic era is already put into force. This means that the gospel is not a utopian description of some far-off future. It is the daybreak of this future in the pardoning, promising word that sets people free.”
–The Way of Jesus Christ, p.95-96
Two things I’m contemplating today about this paragraph. First, I really love that Moltmann doesn’t speak of salvation as property. It isn’t something we own, like a Scout badge. It’s more like a destination we’re running toward, because it is entirely bound up in the coming Kingdom of God. In this way we can talk not about “having” salvation but as having glimpsed and experienced salvation on its way to something even bigger.
Secondly, I think there’s a lot to be explored in this couplet of pardoning and promising, and also in the triplet of pardoning/promising/being set free. There is such radical and unexpected love evidenced here. One would expect, after being pardoned, to move along quietly and humbly, attempting not to press our luck to ask for anything else. But what does God go and do after pardoning all the ways we have been lousy excuses for human beings? God promises us huge things, like salvation on its way to the even bigger coming Kingdom of God. And what else would such an exchange do but set us free in a way we could hardly fathom beforehand? We’re now without guilt, and filled up with love, and sent out to do worthwhile and right and good things in the world. We become salvation on the way. That, my friends, is good news.