John Gavazzoni
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The Gavazzonis'

Thus Loved
By John Gavazzoni

This is an Open Letter to Those of my Christian Who Passionately Desire the Ultimate Spiritual Breakthrough.

The more sublime is a particular truth, paradoxically, the more vulnerable it is to distortion, and the believer who seeks to uncover its wealth is correspondingly more vulnerable to deception. How very sublime is Paul's teaching about "a more excellent way." Following that statement, he makes it abundantly clear that the more excellent way is the Way of love.

Therein is the ultimate spiritual breakthrough - to love as God loves; to think, understand and speak as love does; to see through the eyes of love, will take us beyond penultimate spiritual benefit, into the dimension of the glorious ultimate. I have been so impressed and informed by this crisis in Pauline thought that I have several times entertained the idea of setting aside all biblical study, refusing to engage in anything that might smack of doctrine, quit confronting folks with Jesus Christ, and His claim of universal Lordship and Saviorhood, and simply give myself to an intense, undistracted focus on living by love.

BUT the problem with that, is that love has a Way, an only Way, and that Way is a Person in. Whom and by Whom love has come to us. We cannot separate becoming true lovers from coming to know Jesus intimately, and with some degree of understanding: "For God THUS loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eonian life." God loved THUSLY. God loved, and continues to love THAT Way, HIS Way, and there is no other way.

The Way of love, is not the way of a merely admirable quality at work in human relationship. Love is the gift of God in the Person of His Son to be experienced by growing in the grace and knowledge of Him, AND Him crucified. We can't simply say, "well, love is what we all really need, and going into too many specifics about the Person of Christ, and His place in it all, is too problematic, too divisive." We can't say, "this business of the cross of Christ is so negative and offensive, why make such a big thing of it; why can't we just decide to be more loving? Why can't we just raise our consciousness to a higher love-level?

I'll tell you why! Because there is no breakthrough into the ultimate of love, without Christ breaking through to us by His death. His death tore the veil that separated us from genuine, eternal, glorious love. The love of God could not reach us except through the gift and sacrifice of God's Son. Try to shield the eyes of your spiritual consciousness from the cross of Christ, and all that's left is doing our best to do the best for our fellow man, which falls far short of the best that God is determined to bring us to, the best being a joint-heir with Jesus Christ of all the wealth of the Father.

Can God send His Son in the Spirit to work in the heart of a person without that person knowing anything about the historical Jesus? I'm sure He can, and I'm convinced that He often does just that. BUT, the test of such an experience comes when that person hears "the old, old story of Jesus and His love."

If the subjective experience he already had of Christ before hearing of Him is real, when the Word of Christ is brought to him by one sent by God, that Word of understanding will enrich his experience of Christ as His life. He will experience Christ within and without, which is spiritually normative.

Christ is within us, and with us, and among us. We experience Him in ourselves, and in others. Christ indwells us, and encompasses us. He lives in us, and we live in Him, just as He lives in the Father, and the Father lives in Him. In being genuinely contacted spiritually by another, our contacting Him within is enriched. Be careful to not separate the historical Jesus, from the Christ who indwells you. It is true that we no longer know Him according to the flesh, but in the Spirit, but IT IS HE WHOM WE KNOW. We know the historical Jesus in the Spirit.

Deception enters in when in our determination to break out of religion and into loving, we begin to drift away from the Way of love, Christ Himself. It's a slippery slope. Soon you'll find yourself denying the Lord who bought you. Soon, you will abandon Him for some truth that you now only indirectly associate with Him. God loves THUSLY, "For God THUS loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son . . . " (The best translation of John 3:16).

If God's THUS has begun to be offensive to you, particularly all that gory crucifixion stuff, in trying to go beyond religion, you have, by your reaction to mere religion, made a religion out of love. Really agape love has great expectation, and that expectation is centered in the cross of Christ that called for resurrection. Paul's expectation was right on: "Shall not HE, who delivered up His Son on our behalf, together with Him, give us all things?"

You want love to take you over, and be the dynamic of your life and relationships? Then ponder God's gift of His Son. All other pathways to loving end up in spiritual impotence. You end up, as nice people getting together to sing nice songs, and listening to a nice man tell you how to be nicer. UGH!

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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