The Most Profound Idea

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Karl Barth was asked once what was the most profound theological idea he’d ever thought or heard. This is a man who wrote eight thick volumes of systematic theology and many other books besides. What was the most profound thing he’d ever thought or heard?

“Jesus loves me, this I know,” he said, “for the Bible tells me so.”

Those simple words can be the crown of a lifetime of insight, because this love came down, rose up, never stopped, and runs to embrace even you, even me.

–Mark Buchanan,
The Holy Wild

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Knowing and relishing

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The heart of the Bible’s message, muted in the Old Covenant but shouted aloud in page after page of the New, is the improbable, astonishing, breathtaking good news that I am the one Jesus loves. . . .

At great cost, all by his own doing, Jesus makes me his own, loves me without condition, forgives me without remainder, places his own name on me, puts his own Spirit in me, and goes ahead to prepare a place for me. He’s made me a chosen people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, one who belongs to God.

I am the one Jesus loves.

As are you.

. . . It is the wellspring of all we do and all we are. All life and ministry is overflow. And the inflow is this one thing: knowing and relishing and never forgetting that I am the one Jesus loves.

–Mark Buchanan
I Am the One Jesus Loves

When beauty beckons

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There you are, standing at a window, watching oak leaves flutter down from dark boughs, and without warning your whole body fills with a longing for something you can’t name, something you’ve lost but never had, that you’re nostalgic for yet don’t remember. You sense a joy so huge it breaks you, a sorrow so deep it cleanses.

Or in line at a store one day, you turn and look at a child who doesn’t notice you. The skin on her face curves down flushed and smooth along her cheekbones and creases into delicate folds at her eyes. There is a wild hope in those eyes, and her beauty pierces you in a way you don’t understand.

. . . And you wonder, How can this be?

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This is how: You want to go home. The instinct for heaven is just that: homesickness, ancient as night, urgent as daybreak. All your longings—for the place you grew up, for the taste of raspberry tarts that your mother once pulled hot from the oven, for that bend in the river where your father took fishing as a child, where the water was dark and swirling and the caddis flies hovered in the deep shade—all these longings are a homesickness, a wanting in full what all these things only hint at, only prick you with. These are the things seen that conjure in our emotions the Things Unseen. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men,” the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:11).

–Mark Buchanan
Things Unseen

The scent of Things Unseen

The world, beautiful as it is, is not enough. The beauty itself doesn’t satisfy. It promises satisfaction mirage-like, it can’t provide. Yet the beauty is a mimetic clue, both echo and foretaste, of Things Unseen, an enigmatic hint of Elsewhere which we puzzle over but rarely decipher. He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done. He is everywhere baiting us, prodding, luring us.

He is playing hide-and-seek with heaven and earth,
strewing clues all around, brushing the common-place
with the scent of Things Unseen.

–Mark Buchanan

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