Some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples are quite poignant in the life and future of FPU. Luke records an argument at the last supper among the disciples concerning who was the greatest among them. Our Lord, the peacemaker, confronts them with the reality of kingdom living: “the greatest of you should be the youngest and the one who rules, should be the servant” (Luke 22:24-27). The disciple John remembers an extension of Luke’s narrative as he recounts the master disrobing and kneeling to wash the feet of this ambitious group. I have become more sensitive to dusty feet after living in Pakistan. Each day you need to clean your shoes or feet during the dry season. Anyone with status would not dare clean his/her own shoes, but would direct their servants to do the job. John records one disciple’s resistant response and Jesus’ retort: “you should wash one another’s feet. I set before you an example that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:13-15).
As a prophetic Christian community (The FPU Idea) we were established to follow the example of Jesus. The strength of our future depends on applying this word to our work and relationships in and outside this community. The pathway and possibilities to our future are rooted in these words of our Lord: “be servants of all.” The disciple John describes this act of Jesus as a demonstration of the extent of his love for the disciples. Jesus follows this demonstration with a new commandment: “to love as he has loved us” (John 13:34).
Sometimes we lose our way, our vision or veer off the pathway when we lose sight of our mission, vision and values. We are a community that is called to engage the culture, to encourage one another and to be a light in cities where we have established presence. The uniqueness of our education is not just that we are a Christian liberal arts university, but that we are an engaged, Christ-centered learning community. The possibilities for our future are all over the cities of Fresno, Bakersfield, Visalia and Merced, which are an extension of our classrooms, laboratories, mission and our expression of love for God and neighbors. The possibilities are overwhelming if we ask, seek and knock for them. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking they will just come to us. We must be intentional about where we are going.
As we engage the culture and serve these cities, the possibilities for educating our students will spring forth like living water. And we as a community of educators will also drink of this spring as Christ has promised in his words after washing their feet: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 17:13). Our pathway for educating our students for their future is clear: engage the culture, serve the cities and love one another. This is implicit in the FPU Idea.