A Joyful Action
“There is one final point. The knowledge of God as participation in the veracity of the revelation of God is a work of gratitude. But this means that it cannot take place except in joyfulness. There can be no acknowledgement of the revelation of God unless we ourselves are involved. But, involved in this way, we are placed strictly under the rule of the object and become obedient. This obedience, however, can only mean that we are ourselves requisitioned to be doers of this work. If the revelation reaches us, if it becomes for us the necessary basis of our knowledge, this does, of course, mean that it approaches us from without, but it also means—how else can it reach us?—that it does actually come to us and therefor into us. It does not cease to transcend us, but we become immanent to it, so that obedience to it is our free will.
But because God remains transcendent to us even in His revelation, the subjectivity of our acknowledgment of His revelation means our elevation above ourselves. It is this that of necessity makes our knowledge of God a joyful action. A gratitude that consists in an involuntary, mutinous and therefore forced and unjoyful action is not thanksgiving. A tribute to tyranny, however paid, is not thanks. A sacrifice offered in dread and constraint is not, in the biblical sense at least, a real sacrifice. Sacrifice and thanks are only what is offered gladly. And the basis which make s the true knowledge of God necessary is in itself the basis of knowing God gladly.”
[Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II.1, 219]