This week is United Club Week, a time when we look for things we share in common. Yet as a campus we’re in a pretty strong climate of disagreement. In some areas, it seems like we separate ourselves along ideological lines that can’t be crossed. We are a diverse community, yet in many ways the diversity we celebrate divides us.
But is that the kind of place Goshen College should be? We live and work on a small campus, so when we disagree, it’s sometimes hard to go through the day without facing those with whom we disagree. That’s a healthy way to keep conflicts in perspective, but if the conflicts become the sole drivers of social interaction and conversation on campus, life can become pretty difficult.
I’m not arguing for an end of arguments. Personally, I have deeply held beliefs about issues this campus is facing that I don’t want to give up. I am sure many of my classmates and friends are in similar situations themselves.
I think there is a better way to approach issues we face in the public square than the way we do now. Three questions occur to me: What do we share? What makes Goshen College special? Why did we all come here, anyway?
The core values statement comes to mind. Many of my classmates say that it’s one of the things that made Goshen College sound inviting, the right place to be. I’ve always thought of it as though each of the core values is like a spotlight from a different angle, lighting up the different sides of the unique, special Goshen College experience.
So what’s so important about these core values? Every student here can be a passionate learner, a compassionate peacemaker, a global citizen, a servant leader. I believe those are things we can share with assurance. But are we Christ-centered enough?
With faith, we often find it easier to look for differences rather than similarities. In a way, that’s fine. Diversity in belief is part of what makes Goshen College an interesting place. Yet one thing can’t be ignored: we, as a college, are “led by Christ in our search for truth.” At least that is what our first core value says.
And speaking of faith, I’ve been talking to some of my fellow students recently. Many say that faith is a difficult thing for them to measure. For some, faith means receiving spiritual nourishment from a weekly visit to church, from Chapel services or simply sharing community together. Others told me they see people often claiming faith, but not acting upon it. They argue that our most heated disagreements stem from that lack of acting.
It’s easy to imagine what things would be like if we were not Christ-centered, or “searching for truth,” as our core value explains. We would see each other as people in ideological opposition, as opposing camps, rather than fellow students. We would be led by the variety of forces that come into play that turn us from fellow passionate learners and compassionate peacemakers into political enemies who can’t talk to each other. Boundaries like race, age and social standing would start to matter.
But that’s not who we are. It’s not who we want to be. Because when we lose Christ-centeredness, we lose everything that makes Goshen College special.
As Easter approaches, maybe it’s time to consider this question on a deeper level: Are we Christ-centered enough?