Barth once wrote a very simple little sentence – nothing world shaking or new, but it was one that smacked me between my existential eyes (I was jumping up and down inside, full of Amen’s. Funny what some sentences can do to you isn’t it?).
‘Where there is church, she has one goal: the Kingdom of God’
Simple, yet very profound.
A side rant on the ‘kingdom of God’: I cringe when I hear preachers who really don’t have a broad enough understanding mention the kingdom of God. The economic, social, political, environmental, moral, personal, physical and spiritual togetherness is so often reduced to ‘signs and wonders’, or a change of an individual’s moral character, and that’s all. Weiss had long ago shown that ‘kingdom of God’ is not something merely within, as all interpreters up to German liberalism read it. How often his insight has been sidelined. And praying ‘Your kingdom come’ can mean, to some, praying for the end of the world! But the kingdom is to come ON EARTH!
I like Barth’s words for another yet related reason. The goal of the church can so often sound religious, yet ultimately becomes an excuse for ineffective, world denying ‘only Jesus and me’ piety. ‘Kingdom of God’ forces the eyes off of the navel, and on to the world around.
What would you say the goal of the church is?