John Gavazzoni
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Futility on Behalf of Fulfillment
By John Gavazzoni

Most Christians think of futility and fulfillment as running on two different tracks, each one toward a different destination. That misunderstanding is integral to the dualistically inclined theology of modern evangelicalism.

While there does exist within orthodox circles some understanding that Dualism (God and the devil in a war to possess the souls of men, with the devil ending up more successful than God) is contrary to the scriptural view of God's sovereignty, nevertheless with complete inconsistency, most exhortative sermons and devotional literature are rife with the practice of dualistic thinking, and thus dualistic practice.

The driving force at the heart of the futility to which all creation has been subjected is death. Death is injected by the sting of sin, and the law is the power of sin. Enmity toward God is death. We must not deny the existence of enmity in our attempt to avoid the error of Dualism. However one defines the devil, an anti-God, anti-humanity, presence of hostility is abroad in this world. Jesus met it head-on, and gained the victory for us. Now that victory is being certainly out-worked from within us as the all-inclusive glorified humanity of Jesus is becoming our existential Reality.

In fact it's what makes this world what it is, the present arrangement that seeks to displace God and true humanness with an autonomous self, a self that claims independent divinity as the counterfeit of grace-endowed participation in the Divine Nature. I will borrow an expression from Eddie Browne that pierces into the heart of this monstrosity: "harmful inhumanities."

Rather than futility and fulfillment traveling on separate tracks toward different destinations, they travel together on the same track toward the same destination. All the time, God is on track to out-manipulate the malevolently manipulative hostility that drives futility, and by His wisdom and power, He causes futility to be friendly to fulfillment. Crucify the Son of God, and what have you accomplished? : the reconciliation of the world.

Hurl your rebellion into the face of God, and what is the result? : Your rebellion becomes the fuel to intensify the passion of God to make you His devoted friend. Try to be to yourself, what only God can be to you and you create an emptiness that cries out to God for fulFILLment. Begin to idolize your fiery passion for God instead of standing worshipfully before His passion for you? That, my dear friend will lead you down the path to cold cynicism.

Very particularly, any attempt to become immune from God-imposed futility in one's quest for spiritual victory will end up becoming, and being seen by all as, a monument representing the whole of the vanity of self-admiring spiritual ambition. So very easily does the egotistic desire for spiritual superiority come in on the coattails of some genuine encounter with the grace of God. Look out for it Christian. Impatience while expecting consistency of victory, leaves one vulnerable to worshipping God with false fire.

God Himself has subjected all creation to futility in HOPE, true hope whose expectation is full of certainty, that is with a glorious end in view, the "telos," the goal of God for all humanity that futility is forced to serve. This is a divine principle at work from beginning, all along the way, and all the way to the goal, experiencing futility in your quest to be "a victorious Christian?" All's well then. Fulfillment will swallow up the futility and turn it into glory—the glory of grace. Kenneth Greatorex says, “The ways of God are beyond our human comprehension and so marvellous in all their out-workings toward his goal — a vast family of glorified sons.”

Has defeat met you at every turn as you have mustered up every ounce of determination to be the Christian you envision God wants you to be? Wonderful! Great! Defeat is good. Victory is better. But you get to the latter by way of the former. Now as God grants you clarity, think clearly about what I've written. Glory is our expectation, not futility, but true God-infused expectation expects futility on the Way, as part of the Way.

Addendum by Jonathan Mitchell:

Such union, of which — as you say — we have only skipped across the surface. No wonder there is the primal urge to penetrate. In ALL THINGS God is seeking union with Himself.

Good stuff here, John. I'm tracking with you, and I agree. Yes, one Nature: His. And within Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead, bodily — existentially, eonially. Even in the "dust we are... unto dust we return;" or, "rock we are... unto the Rock we return." In Him is nature restored unto Itself (Nature).

Interesting, the thought just passed through, that the Rock upon which the church is built it actually the stone tablets of the Law, but not the Law in its first covenant state, but the fleshly tablet in the heart in its resurrected, newly constructed (formed; created) state. The continuity, but new, the goal (telos). The earth, but enveloped in a heaven... transformed, glorious. The beauty from the ashes. The Adam, from the Adam; the living People from the dry bones. Using Tillich's words differently, the Being from the Ground (Soil; Creation) of being. The ground upon which we stand is holy, because of the Presence; His presence makes everything His tabernacle, and we return to being barefooted — in union with the ground of our being.

No wonder we partake of the "fruit of the earth." It is the Stuff (yes, I don't think that He minds being called Stuff) of which we are made. A Body He has prepared for Himself... in every layer, realm, sphere of existence/creation. No wonder that if we make our bed in sheol (the grave; the earth) He is there. From the ground came a seed ("let the ground/earth bring forth" — Gen. 1:11), and the seed fell back into the ground in order to bring forth a harvest, an increase. Forth from out of the midst, through the midst and back into the midst — of Him.

Such union, of which — as you say — we have only skipped across the surface. No wonder there is the primal urge to penetrate. In ALL THINGS God is seeking union with Himself.

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