John Gavazzoni
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The Gavazzonis'

The Inner Man, and the Outer Man
By John Gavazzoni

One cannot find an entrance into Pauline thought without being granted by the Spirit of Truth, to grasp at least in some measure, the apostle's perspective of there being a great gulf fixed between the being which we all have in the eternal Being of God, and that B(b)eing's integral placement into the strange environment of aionian creaturehood. In the life of the believer, this becomes particularly evident, as the above contrasting strangeness confronts him insistently. [Referring to the Being of God as eternal, is of course choosing to emphasize a truth by redundancy].

On one hand, on the eternal side of that great divide, the inner man, born/generated by Divine impregnation and conception abides, remains, and does so without any disturbance to the life which is His/his as passed on to him by His/his Father/Mother God. But He/he has, while still remaining on the eternal side, been also sent into "the world," into a distortion of the ordering which lies at the heart of the Family of God. (I've chosen to speak of "the ordering" instead of the more familiar (to Bible students) "orderly arrangement" due to brother Eddie Browne's contribution to a recent internet discussion).

The Family of/which is God, lives by the ordering of the Divine Nature, most essentially by its nature of communing love. This is that to which the inner man belongs, but that ordering has been, by the determinative will of God Himself, sent away to become, to suffer the distortion of becoming, the Kosmos, the present order in which we live "this present life." This emigration introduces, and amounts to, a systemizing of man-to-God, and man-to-man relationship. I hasten to add that this present ordering has no power at all to systematize God's relationship with us, only the reverse.

A great tearing has occurred because of the above, a rupture of being, as it were. The pain of having been sent into this world, is actually exacerbated by the Reality of still abiding concurrently in the bosom of the Father. It is God, of course, who is calling us home, but it is also, in Him, our own being calling us back into eternal, undisturbed union. It is because we all, in some measure, the generated, and unregenerated, feel the pull of home. For the regenerated man, the pull is more AWEful.

"In union with God, there is rest that’s complete,
There is peace and there is joy without measure,
In union with God, we may sit at His feet,
And enjoy this wonderful treasure.
He’s coming to us, as our hearts yearn for Him,
And we’re joined in the light of His glory,
The Father is pleased, as with gladness we see,
His likeness brought forth, in this union of Love."

Every man has an inner man, and an outer man. For those who have not YET met their Master, their Mediator-link to home, the pull comes from the Presence of the Divine Seed, which even has a certain effectiveness before"It" births our sharing in Christ's Personhood within our creaturehood. For the believer, the Divine Seed has been watered to begin blossoming into its place in the New Humanity. That Seed is specifically the Christ as Jesus, crucified, resurrected and glorified, and distributed in Spirit into all men.

Karl Barth, the extremely influential Swiss theologian of the past century, has written brilliantly regarding the tension which I, by comparison, am clumsily trying to address. Writing in his Commentary on the Book of Romans, and coming from a perspective of seeing an analogy between Israel and the church, he comments on God's relationship with Jacob and Esau.

Before quoting him somewhat at length, I ask the reader to consider this principle: "Within every Jacob lies an Esau, and within every Esau, a Jacob." So, bear with brother Barth, as we of lesser intellect, grope as it were, to feel the impact of his words. I've picked out a portion of his commentary on Romans 9: 14-29, within which he addresses the awful question that arises from any serious consideration of this portion of scripture: "Is there unrighteousness with God," specifically in regard to the terrifying statement of the Almighty, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau I hated?" (Please note, that within Barth's comments, he quotes a theologian by the name of Steinhofer, to which Barth adds a strategic insight.)

"The words stand then: Jacob have I loved, but Esau I hated. 'This and other passages — as, for example, where the pillar of cloud came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and was darkness to the former but light to the latter — are two-sided. To the believers who trust in the love of God, they have a tender and delightful meaning: to those, however, who prefer to confide in their own works, they appear as a dark cloud.

The more a man finds these texts to be harsh, the more is he wedded to his own righteousness. Inasmuch, however, as he is able to live quietly with them, his heart rests altogether in grace' (Steinhofer). ... God forbid that we should accept such an antithesis, however plausible it may seem, and however true may be the perception which lies behind it. Such a separation of men can only be allowed to appear, IF IT BE AT ONCE BROKEN DOWN (Emphasis mine), and if by its immediate disappearance God be manifested as He is. FOR GOD IS THE GOD OF ESAU, BECAUSE HE IS THE GOD OF JACOB. (Emphasis mine). He is the creator of tribulation BECAUSE (Barth's own emphasis) He is the Bringer of help. He rejects, IN ORDER THAT (Barth's own emphasis) He may elect. We must not avoid the KRISIS or vacate the two-sided pillar of cloud of its scandal. And so we come to speak of the endurance which is necessary in this KRISIS." End of quotation.

So daily, we who are of the faith of Christ, who differ only from all other men in that our time of faith has come awaiting theirs so that together we might be perfected, we experience God's tender nurturing of our true, real, genuine inner man, BUT ALSO the same God's terrible rejection of this world's fashioning of our creaturehood into the outer man.

This present fashioning of the outer man, by the present systemic ordering, includes making him integral to, and complicit in that very ordering. God's resistance to all that is of that externally-imposed, externally-fashioned, dis-shapened, misshapened persona, is without compromise.

Yet, even that outer man has his ultimate source in the Being of God, who, in absolute solidarity of union with His creation, subjected all creation to futility. That futility boils down to the vanity of every attempt by the outer man to find its way back home across the great fixed gulf.

Every attempt, as Barth constantly confronts his readers, meets the awful "NO!" of God, but concurrently, on the other side of the gulf, we have the unqualified, ontologically-based "YES!" of God. It is His resounding Yes, grounded in the eternally indissoluble union of the Creator with His creation.

It is indissoluble, because that which is the work of His hands (the creation) came out from the substance of that which was birthed as the fruit of His loins (the generation/procreation). Therefore, we have His unqualified, eternal, joyous acceptance of us, as those who are worth being glorified with His Son.

It is God who crosses the great divide from His side, full of His gracious YES, and who in that crossing, destroys the gulf by filling it with Himself. As our Father and Savior bridge the gap, we meet Him/Them, and we meet the Reality of ourselves.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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