Sunday 22 October 2017

Human Nature in Thoughtful Portions I -V by David Heisler

Human Nature

We use this phrase often – “human nature” – but I’m not sure we adequately define it. What is “human nature”? Is it simply the way we react and respond to the world, or to our own emotional or psychological state? Or is it something deeper? Are we limited or constrained by our “human nature”? Are we at odds with it and are forced to fight against it? Or, do we even have a nature at all?

Some say we have no independent nature and are simply containers or conduits of the nature of another. Some say we have two natures at work in us at the same time.

This is confusing. But, this is important. This question can never be adequately answered because you can’t see your nature the way you can see other parts that make you human – your nose for instance, although many can see no further. You can only “see” expressions or products of your nature – assuming you have one. You can see and feel and experience different things that give you some indication of “nature” – but you will never actually see your nature.

Why is this important – nature – none, one or two? Well, we spend a lot of time talking about our nature and trying to change it – or deal with it – or explain it away – or, perhaps, just trying to ignore it – but you will never really ignore it.

Human Nature II

I know a discussion of “human nature” is controversial. I knew it would be and hesitated for some time to start this discussion – but off we go.

Since, as I said in part one, “nature” cannot be seen with the eyes; to some extent we will never really know the answer to this question – no nature – one nature – or – two natures. But this is not math. This question cannot be answered or proven like two plus two equals four. Thankfully that is not the point. The point is that each and every one of us must answer this question sufficiently for ourselves. Because, unless and until we get our answer, personally – then we spin in circles and fight fights that waste our time and the resources of the Kingdom.

In a very real sense we must wrestle and prevail as Jacob when he wrestled all night and prevailed against some unknown man. [Gen. 32.24-25] As I understand the literal truth of this odd story, Jacob had a question – he wrestled with his question until he got his answer. I suggest he wrestled with his identify in Christ – although, of course, he did not use that terminology. There are times in life when we must wrestle with our own identity in Christ until we prevail and get our answers – and we do and we will.
Answering this question about nature – your nature is a question that we must wrestle with until our answer comes.

Human Nature III

No “nature” – one “nature” – two “natures” – which one? Of course the biggest problem is that in the Bible you can find support for any position you like – on any subject.

Let’s start with a definition – “nature”. Basically “nature” is how a thing, or in this case a person, operates – known usually by observing characteristics, qualities and temperament. But, of course there’s more. Presumably every living being has a nature. And, it’s important that that is so. Without a “nature” life would be absolutely unpredictable and it would be almost impossible to function.

I think we got past the first question – yes we do have a “nature”. For the most part people and things behave in a fairly predictable manner – according to their “nature”. Consider if every day you woke up and were unsure how you or others would react and respond in everyday situations. Of course that doesn’t happen. Things and people act and react and live very predictably - according to their “nature”.

But, before we decide how many natures we have operating at the same time, first we should decide where our nature comes from. That shouldn’t be so tough to figure out. As they say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’. Who’s our tree? Who planted our seed? Where did He get the seed from?

Human Nature IV

Well, He is our tree. He both is our seed and He planted our seed. We are created in His likeness and in His image [Gen. 1.26] – and more so in Christ. Is our nature “independent” or ’’dependent”? I’m not sure how anything or anyone can be truly “independent” of Him. He created all and is the source of all. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1.3

Back to why it is so important that this question of “nature” be laid to rest. My personal position is that I am one unified person. An old missionary [NPG are his initials] once said, to the effect –“when you see someone, you don’t say I see a ‘body’ – you say I see a “person’”. So I say – I’m just a person. I don’t say I’m a body, soul and spirit. I don’t say I’m a person with one nature fighting against another nature. I’m just a person. I am a redeemed and reconciled person. I am saved and justified – but a person, none-the-less.

So long as we are unsure of our person or our nature our focus is inward and that is not profitable for the Kingdom. We must put this question to rest and cease the self-examination and look outward - “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” John 4.35

Human Nature V

Did Jesus wrestle with the question of His human nature? Of course He did. There is no human issue that He did not address, confront and resolve for Himself. His nature was certainly one of those issues. But once He came to the point where He could say – “I and my Father are one” [John 10.30] – this issue was resolved for Him.

What did He pray for us? “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: “[John 17.22] There should be no doubt that Jesus’ prayer was fulfilled. “… ye might be partakers of the divine nature … ” [2 Peter 1.4]

Now, we can talk about humans as containers or expressers – and so we are. But this terminology is conceptual and used as a teaching tool, and is by no means the end of the discussion. “But we have this treasure in earthenvessels …” [2 Cor. 4.7] But, we are not really “earthen vessels” – we are really persons. “I am the vine, ye are the branches”. [John 15.5] But again, we are not really “branches” - we are really persons. The concept is over – the teaching tool no longer needed - when the understanding is gained in your heart – that understanding that we are more than what we may appear – we are the very human expression of Him – with His divine nature.

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