Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Suffering Christ and the Future Hope

Sun of Righteousness, Arise!: God's Future for Humanity and the EarthJurgen Moltmann is known both for his work on the Theology of Hope and for his work on the The Crucified God . He understands that it is in the suffering Christ that God experiences our suffering.  As he  writes in his latest book, The Sun of Righteousness Arise!:   

 He writes further:
If God goes wherever Chrit goes, then Christ brings God's fellowship to people who are humiliated, persecuted, assailed and murdered just as he was himself.  His cross stands between the unnumbered crosses which line the paths of the perpetrators of violence on this earth, in the Roman Empire from Spartacus to Jerusalem, from the death camps of the German Third Reich to the "disappeared" under the military dictatorships in Latin America.
But God in Christ not only walks with us in our sufferings, as a companion on the way, participating in our suffering, through his own suffering, but there is hope for the future. 

The fellowship of Christ is experienced not only as the fellowship of the humiliated Christ with us, but also as our fellowship with Christ who was raised from the dead and exalted into the future glory.  The Son of Man who finds us when we are lost takes us with him on his way to God's future.  We experience the other side of Christ when we feel the energies of life and are born again to a living hope.  Then we sense how the "fountain of life" opens (Ps. 36:9) and fills us with new love for life, in spite of all the negations.  Our powers are re-energized, and in the midst of the world of death we enter upon the "path of life."  Then we live in the divine Spirit's field of force, and experience his vitalizing efficacies.  Then we see this deathly world in the light of Christ's resurrection, and in the vital powers of the Spirit receive "the powers of the world to come" (Heb. 6:5).  The night of God's remoteness passes away, and the dayspring colours of God's new day are visible (Rom. 13:12).  We exist in the radiance it throws ahead of itself, and act in anticipation of God's future.  (Moltmann, Sun of Righteousness, p. 115) 

I think that the reason why I keep coming back to the centrality of the resurrection is that without it there is only death, there is no future.  I remember watching Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, and after all the brutality that filled the movie, the moment of resurrection was passed over so quickly that it didn't seem to matter.  I sat their wallowing in suffering, with no hope for the future.  Moltmann, who acknowledges the reality that God in Christ has experienced our suffering and has walked with us in our suffering, does not let suffering have the last word.  There is hope for the future, a hope that sees the fragmentation of this world healed and made whole.  It is that hope of the future wholeness that should empower and inspire us to engage in the work of reconciliation and healing now, as the Spirit of God is present in our midst and in our lives. 

1 comment:

Doug Sloan said...

Isn't the point of faith - the point of the life and message lived by Jesus - that the Good News life is worth living regardless of the suffering? Is it really faith if it requires a miracle to validate it? How well are we living the Good News if we are not invoking retribution? For all its non-violence and lack of vengeance, the Good News life is also defiant and dangerous. Our Good News life should involve a strong element of defiance and danger because we refuse to live in accordance with the social practicalities of the world. We will be generous and hospitable to everyone and we will seek justice for everyone and we will not do so quietly or invisibly. We live this way because it is the right way to live. The Good News is life - here and now - in the kingdom of God. It does not require a sacrificial death or the miracle of a resurrection to "prove" the rightness or correctness or holiness of the Good News message and life. It only requires that we live it.