Barth: the mission of the church
‘God so loved’—not the Christian, but—‘the world’. ‘I am the light of the world’, says the Lord, and by His own self-giving He passes the light on to His disciples: ‘Ye are the light of the world!’ It is the duty of the real Church to tell and show the world what it does not yet know. This does not mean that the real Church’s mission is to take the whole or even half the world to task. It would be the servant of quite a different Master if it were to set itself up as the accuser of its brethren. Its mission is not to say ‘No’, but to say ‘Yes’; a strong ‘Yes’ to the God who, because there are ‘godless’ men, has not thought and does not think of becoming a ‘manless’ God—and a strong ‘Yes’ to man, for whom, with no exception, Jesus Christ died and rose again. How extraordinary the Church’s preaching, teaching, ministry, theology, political guardianship and missions would be, how it would convict itself of unbelief in what it says, if it did not proclaim to all men that God is not against man but for man. It need not concern itself with the ‘No’ that must be said to human presumption and human sloth. This ‘No’ will be quite audible enough when as the real Church it concerns itself with the washing of feet and nothing else. This is the obedience which it owes to its Lord in this world.
—Karl Barth, “The Real Church,” Against the Stream: Shorter Post-War Writings 1946-52 (London: SCM Press, 1954), 73.