John Gavazzoni
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Knowing AND Being Aware
By John Gavazzoni

In a recent internet dialogue session, the matter of not knowing any man after the flesh, no not even Christ came up. Such a wonderful truth. There is an eonian, existential, missing-the-mark pressure put upon us that distorts, but cannot intrinsically alter, our true personhood as God adds creaturehood to our in-Christ, eternally-birthed personhood, so that, if we only know a person within that distorted orientation, we're really only relating to the lie that deformed the outer man into the anti-person our five senses connect with.

It is in knowing one another as foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified in Christ, that we enjoy the communion of the saints, which is a participation in the communion of the Holy Spirit. Of course, we need not be consciously thinking of the other as defined above, but if we're connecting with the inner man, that's the theological tracing of his true personhood. And the church is edified, as together we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, when that wonderful connecting occurs.

BUT, I know, if you know me, you know that I'm a yes/but kinda' guy when I see that certain affirmations have not been thought through thoroughly, while it is wonderful to KNOW all men according to Christ, it will also serve you well to be AWARE of any present propensities of their unique expression of "the flesh," otherwise, without that discernment, you're very vulnerable to being blind-sided by the inconsistency between saint Joe, and disaster-always-going-somewhere-to-happen Joe. Sometimes we need to know folks in the Spirit FROM A DISCREET DISTANCE.

Have you ever begun to really have fellowship with a brother or sister, I mean fellowship that warms your heart, added to your life, and is a reminder of the fact that the family of God is a reality, only to be suddenly, and terribly violated by their flesh-persona? Oh yeah! If it ain't happened to you yet, chances are it will before we're all conformed to the image of the One in whom is our true Humanity.

So, be wise as serpents, and gentle as doves. Do, be KNOWING men in the Spirit, in Christ, but don't let that blind you to the wisdom of also being AWARE of some brethren, who, if only in certain seasons of their lives, and/or in certain situations, to get to close to them, and for you to give into mere natural sympathy, will find you being dragged into the vortex of their fault. Mmm, come to think of it, didn't one of New Testament writers’ say something about "mark them who . . . ?"

Does this mean that we need to be of a defensive posture in our relationships with fellow believers? Absolutely not! Please don't take what I've written as encouraging such a negative approach to cultivating relationships within the community of faith. We actually must risk vulnerability to being played for a sucker sometimes.

To be truly and consistently loving will always leave one vulnerable to neurotic reaction from those for whom love is so strange that they must push it away from themselves by emotional violence. This article could just as well have been about cautioning each of us to be aware of our own faults in certain circumstances of interaction with others. Be aware when a situation is arising that pushes your particular temperament-button.

My father and my paternal grandmother were two of the most generous-to-a-fault people you could ever meet, and charming; wonderfully, delightfully charming. You simply could not meet either of them, and forget that you had. Nope, they made a lasting impression on all whoever came into their presence. The effect very often of meeting either one of them for the first time, was that you left the meeting with a smile in your soul.

Grandma didn't know how to make spaghetti without making enough to feed all the neighbors around her. If Dad had lunch with a bunch of billionaires, none of them could be fast enough to get the meal check away from him. Yet, in your relationship with Dad and Grandma, you needed, while knowing them in Christ, to be aware of the passionate Sicilian blood that they shared, which passion could shower you with generosity, but also flame up to burn the eyebrows off your face if you offended them.

Sometimes, if they felt the offense was sufficiently repugnant to their sensibilities, the fire, rather than be a searing reaction, would instead, as in the appliance, refrigerate the entire air of the relationship. I surely learned that if love was to prevail, I would need to not get sucked into that vortex, just back off, don't react, and confront the unseemly with non-retaliatory understanding. So, while you're learning to be at peace with all men, learn also how and when to duck.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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