Are you what you say you are?

Daily Reading for December 10 • Karl Barth, Pastor and Theologian, 1968

One could certainly ask whether it is really true that the Savior has kindled such a light in the world, whether we are not in complete darkness in spite of the Savior. Are there honest and upright people at all? That is precisely the question that Advent asks us! We should not look around and ask, “Are there any honest and upright people?” as if such persons should come down from heaven; it is enough that the truth has come to us from heaven in Jesus Christ.

It is God who asks us, “Can what I have spoken become true among you? Where are the honest and upright people who willingly hear and understand what I have said? Where are the bright, open eyes that can see and understand the light? Who truly hears and obeys the joyful message that the light shines? Please understand that for me all is in good order: the light shines, the truth is made known to you, and the knowledge necessary for salvation is in you. But is all in good order for you? Can the light now defy the darkness? Can it triumph? Do you who are Christians, ‘Christ-persons,’ do you see something of the change in all things, of the revelation of the light that is in this name you bear? Are you what you say you are? And your world? Your poor, your sick, your weak, your sinners and godless people, your mockers and slanderers: do they in any way sense or recognize that Christ the Savior has come? Does a breath of comfort, healing, and wellness go out into the sick world from you who are Christians? Have you done your part to let the light that you have penetrate into your families, into your social circumstances, into the relations of different peoples and nations to one other? In pure goodness I have found you and drawn you to me—but do you seek me? I have given you righteousness out of my grace—but are you now righteous?”

From a sermon preached on December 22, 1918 by Karl Barth, quoted in The Early Preaching of Karl Barth: Fourteen Sermons with Commentary by William H. Willimon (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2009).

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