John Gavazzoni
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The Gavazzonis'

Human Nature
By John Gavazzoni

Someone, somewhere, in some past moment, when informed re: a less-than-ideal action on the part of a fellow human being, commented, "well, after all, it's just human nature you know," or words to that effect. Well, I for one, don't "know" it. The question of what is the nature of human nature has long challenged my thinking, especially as one given to bringing to the table---to the dismay of obsessive traditionalists---a healthy contrarian skepticism toward presumptive theological, philosophical, and yes, even "scientific" paradigms.

I suppose almost all of us could agree that humankind has its problems, but is its essential problem that of having a "sin-nature" and/or "sinful nature?" Both of those designations seem to be used, for the most part, to convey the premise that sin and sinning are native to our humanness. I bought into that notion from the early mentoring I received after the Lord called me to Himself. I was thoroughly indoctrinated in the concept that designated---and therefore denigrated---any "unsaved" person as evil to the inmost core of his being.

Though the first pastor I was mentored by had a heart better than his theology (regeneration had instilled in him a fundamental love for his fellowman)---if pressed to sign onto a creedal confession, he would have felt it necessary to agree with John Calvin's first theological premise, that man is totally depraved. Calvin's essential premises were: Total Depravity; Unconditional Election; Limited Atonement; Irresistible Regenerating Grace; and Perseverance of the Saints. Remember that list with the acrostic, TULIP.

In his Bible institute training, as in mine, he had been taught that Calvin was the church's greatest theologian without exception. This has led to the general view that man is a problem to God in contrast to the true portrayal of man in scripture as the embodiment of God's purpose. So we're faced with the question, what guides our evaluation of humanness: Problem or Purpose?

I don't know how far I'll go in this article to probe the question raised, but I will go at least this far, and ask the reader, "Does not that which is native to a species cause that species to prosper? is not that which is native to a species conducive to its well-being?" Flying, for instance, belongs, and contributes, to a bird's well-being, to being all that it is. Deprived of that native expression of its nature, it, to some degree at least, suffers rather than prospers by being earthbound.

As my regular readers know, I'm an exuberant "daddy" to a gorgeous, alpha male, German Shepherd, who will certainly any day now, clear the 100 lb. bar, so he just has to stand there at attention at the approach of a stranger to look guardian angel-like intimidating. Samson came into our family after we lost Duke, who was every bit as magnificent an example of that breed's unique place among all the others who are "man's best friend." As it was with Duke, so it is with Samson, his nature-driven propensity for guarding and protecting Jan and I, his family, and our and his property is so instinctive, that should I angrily scold or (God forbid) give him a whack every time he shows any protectiveness, his spirit would wither and die.

Enough of those illustrations. What I want to confront the reader with is the question, "If sin and sinning are native to our humanness, how come we don't thrive by having sin in our flesh, and by sinning?" Need I press the issue that the prospering and thriving of the human soul does not accompany sin and sinning? They cause just the opposite. Sin destroys, it fragments even to the point of shattering the human psyche.

Let's look at the question from another view point. Was not God aware of man's need when He sent His Son to be our Deliverer from ill-being, from all that is destructive to the full-flowering, and full enjoyment, of what it means to be truly human? Most certainly God was so aware, thus if we read carefully in Luke's Gospel how Jesus described what His ministry would be, we should be able to ascertain what our problems really are, so we can get on with God's purpose in our lives. What Jesus described as what already had constituted His ministry up to that point, and what folks could expect of Him ongoing, had nothing to do with an extracting of a sin-nature/sinful nature, and replacing it with another.

To get the full impact of what the empowering of the Holy Spirit upon Him, with its attending anointing was meant to accomplish, let's go to Jonathan Mitchell's translation of that announcement by our Lord. We find it in Luke 4:18 & 19 beginning with for what purpose the Spirit was upon Him, on account of which anointing He had receive, i.e.: " bring and proclaim the good news (a message of ease and wellness) to destitute folks, and He has sent me off as an emissary (a missionary, one commissioned as His representative) to cure and heal folks with [their] heart having been crushed, to publicly proclaim, as a herald, to (for; among) captives a release and liberation (a letting go away) and to (for; among) blind folks a seeing again (a recovery of sight), to send away with a mission those having been shattered by oppression, in a state of release and liberation, 'to publicly and loudly proclaim [the] Lord's [=Yahweh's] year which is characterized by being welcomed, favorably received and approved...' "

Hmmm: THAT'S why He came; that's why the Spirit was upon Him, and why the Spirit had anointed Him. What we are is not a species needing an extraction of a former nature to be replace by a totally other, but rather a people needing healing from a shattering of our hearts by oppression; from the captivity inherent to our brokenness and blindness. This fits with Paul's explanation that we've been made subject to futility. A condition has been thrust upon us that, rather than characterizing our nature, it's against our nature; alien to who and what we really are.

As a young, fundamentalist evangelist, I often referred to Jeremiah's explanation that "the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked." Well, as it turns out, the good old KJV doesn't have that quite right. It's not...."desperately wicked," it's "...desperately sick." Well now, that throws a monkey wrench into the gears of insistence that we're letting sinners off the hook to say that they're sick. Let's be clear, folks, we're a sick-sinning people, in desperate need of healing. We are ill of soul.

Do your own research, dear reader, and discover how often in the Bible our sin-proneness is rooted in our sickly state. By refusing to accept a brother human's sick-rooted addiction, when we don't have the same version, we can feel self-righteous claiming that his addiction to booze, or drugs, is not a sickness, it's his wrong use of his free will, whereas we are not so addicted because of the noble exercise of our "free will," all the while suppressing the fact of our own addictions, often of a lower profile kind, are every bit just as sick.

When Paul wrote that when that which is perfect is come, and that which is in-part will be done away, at the heart of that expectation is the assurance that "we shall know as we are known" " we are known..." refers to God's true knowledge of us, with "...we shall know..." being the hope of us knowing who and what we are truly AS God knows us. It was according to how God knows us that He sent to Son to minister to us.

So to go over our material, what Jesus is up to is according to how God knows us, and that is that on one hand He knows us generated out of His very loins, as His "offspring," that is, his kin, as Paul, more carefully translated, has it, and as created in His image and according to His likeness, YET while being fully aware---and dealing with us accordingly---that in the creaturely dimension of our existence, we are afflicted by all that is alien to us as God's kin.

With the eternal (I AM) God as our Father, no other genetic elements have been passed onto us; there has been no intrusion of strange DNA, since nothing pre-dates our Father's eternality, and the eternality of our sonship shared with us by and through the only-begotten of the Father, making Him, besides being God's Only-begotten, the First-born of many brethren....That's us, folks, all us humans. So we have a pure genetic make-up but sovereignly designed to suffer from all that we are not, in order that out from the depths of our being, in union with His Being, all of the magnificence of our Jesus-endowed humanity will be drawn forth by that process of life through death completed seminally in our Lord's experience of death unto resurrection.

A great clarification came to me when the Lord explained to me: "You are the fruit of my loins and the work of my hands." We must understand the distinction between our generation and our formation. In that creaturely dimension of our existence, formed, made, carved out, of the dust of the ground (more accurately of the wet soil---thank you, Jonathan) we are, and were meant to be, a most spiritually, soulically, and physically, fragile species, marked by profound neediness, while at the same time, in that dimension of our as being conceived and born from out of God in Christ, "that which is born of God that continually does not sin," and as such, endowed with nothing less that divine resources.

The faith that is intrinsic to fellowship with God is a faith always in need of connection to our Source, and subjection to futility is the soil within which such faith takes root and grows, as our neediness drives us to the kind of dependence that traces to the Son's dependence upon the Father in all things. It bridges the gulf between our creaturely deprivation and the kinship we have as those generated by the Divine Seed.

Along with this article, the reader might want to check out a very closely related one on our web page titled, "Despising the Man of God."

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