Lesslie Newbigin – Warum wir Christen am Ende die göttliche Apokalypse erwarten

Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998)

Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998)

Am Ende seines kleinen Büchleins „A Walk through the Bible“, das postum 1999 erschienen ist, schreibt Lesslie Newbigin, wie im Buch der Offenbarung die göttliche Zukunftsansage sowohl die menschliche Geschichte wie auch das individuelle, vergängliche Leben durch Jesus Christus in die Gottesgegenwart einholt. „That is the vision with which the Bible ends, and it is a vision that enables us to see the whole human story and each of our lives within that story as meaningful, and which therefore invites us through Jesus Christ to become responsible actors in history, not to seek to run away from the responsibilities and the agonies of human life in its public dimension. Each of us must be ready to take our share in all the struggles and the anguish of human history and yet with the confidence that what is committed to Christ will in the end find its place in his final kingdom. Hier der ganze Text:

HISTORY AND OUR STORY

The Bible gives us the whole story of creation and of the human race and therefore enables us to understand our own lives as part of that story. But every human attempt to see the story as a whole runs into an insuperable difficulty. If the meaning of my life is its contribution to some historical project of civilization which in the end will lead to a perfect society in the future, then from my point of view the problem is that I shall not be there to share in it. I shall be dead before it arrives. And that means that I am essentially expendable. I am not part of God’s ultimate purpose. The logic of this has been developed with terrible precision in some of the movements of the twentieth century in which millions of men and women have been sacrificed for the sake of some ideology, some vision of a perfect society in the future.

If I cannot accept this, if I cannot believe that my human life and the lives of those whom I know and love are simply raw material like the shavings left an a workshop floor after the job is done, then the alternative seems to be that I seek for meaning in personal fulfilment. And that inevitably takes me away in the end from total involvement in the human project of civilization. It means that I am led to put my hope in some personal future for myself which must necessarily be beyond this world because I shall not be present when this world comes to its goal. And so there is a kind of spirituality that leads us away from our active involvement in the business of this world. […]

So the alternatives seem to be either finding meaning for history as a whole at the cost of no meaning for my personal life; or else finding meaning for my personal life at the cost of no meaning for the story as a whole. To discover the third option – which I believe to be the answer – we have to recognize that the core of the problem is death. It is death that removes me from the story before it reaches its end. And death, as the Bible tells us, is the wages of sin. We die because nothing that we have done or been is good enough for God’s perfect kingdom. I know that before my obituary is written. We are not fit for God’s eternal kingdom. What the gospel does is to show us that Jesus’ life from a purely earthly point of view ended in failure – and yet, because he committed himself in total obedience and love to his father, he was raised by the father to glory as the first fruits of a new creation.

himmlisches-jerusalem

Himmlisches Jerusalem (aus der Apokalypse von St. Sever, 11. Jahrhundert)

So in so far as I commit all that I do, imperfect as it is, to God in Jesus Christ, knowing that much of it is utterly unfit to survive and yet trusting that what has been committed in faith will find its place in God’s final kingdom, that gives me something to look forward to in which both my hopes for the world and my hopes for myself are brought together. The book of Revelation offers us the vision of a city which is on the one hand the perfection of all human striving towards beauty, civilization and good order, and on the other hand is the place where every tear is dried and where every one of us knows God face to face, and knows that we are his and he is ours. That is the vision with which the Bible ends, and it is a vision that enables us to see the whole human story and each of our lives within that story as meaningful, and which therefore invites us through Jesus Christ to become responsible actors in history, not to seek to run away from the responsibilities and the agonies of human life in its public dimension. Each of us must be ready to take our share in all the struggles and the anguish of human history and yet with the confidence that what is committed to Christ will in the end find its place in his final kingdom.

That means that as I look forward I don’t see just an empty void, I don’t just see my own death, I don’t just see some future utopia in which I shall have no share. The horizon to which I look forward is that day when Jesus shall come, and his holy city will come down as a bride from heaven adorned for her husband.

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