Text: Ecclesiastes 3:9-17
For confidence in God
For those we consider our enemies
For all who desire justice
IN a sermon published in the book Come, Holy Spirit, Karl Barth, in preaching on this text said:
[what] do we mean by this word? Eternity is not time…not a vast sum of all times, nor the so-called new, better time after that, after the passing of all bad times, will finally come to be. Eternity is eternity…separated from time by a gulf that once for all divides the two. This gulf can never be bridged by progress and development.
Barth was speaking to a congregation that had a terrible war in the rear-view mirror (World War I), a terrible peace surrounding them (the Bolsheviks, the Weimar Republic, the Depression) and an uncertain future before them. “Progress” was the word on everyone’s lips, but the sad truth was that every notion of progress had within it the thread of human triumph, of human ingenuity and righteous purity and strength that would, in a few short years, unleash a yet more terrible time.
The details of our days may be different than 1922, but we are still enthralled with the notion that our ingenuity and our purity and our strength—our might—will carry the day, destroy our enemies and ensure Progress, the realization of that “new, better time.” But as the Lutheran Confessions note, it is a grave error to think that, before the coming of Christ, that the righteous shall take possession of the world, the unrighteous and evil having been suppressed everywhere (Augsburg Confession 17:5).
Only God can make eternity possible, and Christians “progress” only by faithfulness to the way of Jesus Christ, where God’s foolishness is greater than our ingenuity; our purity is borrowed; our strength is found in weakness, and we only destroy our enemies by befriending and loving them.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks