From my second floor window I could see Marshall Johnston out on the library green taking wildly exaggerated strides and waving his arms to exhort his history students into one of his famous mock battles. The students wore simulated ancient military garb and carried fake shields, swords and spears as they tried to hold the lines of their formation while keeping up with their leader. After they stumbled through that first exercise to the cheers and hoots of the students who had gathered to observe, their professor then lined them up facing each other so they could become two lines of soldiers charging into each other and trying to gain an advantage. Some fell; some linked arms; some threwdown their weapons; two broke through the line. They ended up laughing and understanding history better, but they also gained new understanding of putting on the whole armor of God and how hard it is to stand firm by yourself.
Whether it is Brian Schultz gesticulating to get his students to actually speak ancient Hebrew—not just read or translate it—or Karen Crozier converging the uncomfortable facts and feelings of racial divides in church and society, or a soft-spoken math prof, a mysterious philosopher, a dramatic poet, a demanding running coach or a mentor gently encouraging a disheartened student in the Academic Support Center, God made us all different. And we need every different person, culture, perspective, ability, personality,church tradition and life story to become mature followers of Christ.
From our very visible skin to our deeply invisible spirits, God delights in diversity in all his creation and specifically in us as the living body of Christ on earth. Our differencesare both a blessing and a curse. God intends human diversity to be a means of his grace, a path to his wisdom, a way to understand the greatness of God and avoid the sin of making God in our own too-small image. But our differences too often separate usfrom each other instead of attracting us to God through each other. Our unhealedwounds and insecurities betray us into trying to put ourselves up by putting down otherswho are different from us. We compete instead of collaborate.
Understanding and celebrating our diversity is a core value of Fresno Pacific University and Biblical Seminary because it is a gift from God that leads us to him through each other. Our diversity means we will misunderstand and make mistakes with each other,sometimes hurtful mistakes. But as God accepts our confessions and forgives ourtrespasses against him, so his Holy Spirit enables us to confess, forgive and acceptforgiveness from each other. God made us different on purpose, and we need eachother so that together we can each one be more like our creator. This is not cultural warfare, this is a joyful journey so that through all our differences we “may all be one”just as Jesus prayed for us to be.