This morning we awoke to one of the most unusual political events of our lifetimes. The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of our nation is an event that will be remembered, studied, and retold for many years to come.
This has been a tumultuous and bruising season in the life of our country. Closer to home, it has been a time of intense debate, strongly held positions, and divisive language for our own IWU community.
From where I sit, I get to see first-hand what a large and diverse community IWU has become. With 80,000 alumni spread across the world, over 14,000 current students in the United States and 30 different countries, and close to 3500 full and part-time employees, our IWU community encompasses racial, gender, economic, national, religious, and political diversity.
Today many in our community celebrate this election. But many others in our community feel sadness and a new sense of vulnerability and fear.
This is the shared reality of our IWU community today.
What will we do about this?
On this day I want to remind our community of who we are, what we value, and what we are called to do.
Who Are We?
We are a Christ-centered academic community. We take our identity from Jesus Christ – the One who is God with us, the Savior of the world, the Suffering Servant of all, the Redeemer of all the bruised and broken, the one who reconciles us to God and to each other. Above all else, and despite our differences, the Indiana Wesleyan University community is defined by our faith in, allegiance to, and pursuit of Jesus. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus today, and take our cues for the future from who He is and who He calls us to be.
What Do We Value?
We value each other. We are an inclusive community that loves and embraces one another despite differences of political persuasion, race, gender, nationality, immigration status, or any other characteristic that people have used to foster division, suspicion, and strife. While some in our community feel better about the future, others in our community feel less safe, more vulnerable, less included today than they did yesterday. Let us affirm together that IWU loves and embraces our minority students and staff, those who come from immigrant families, those who are international students, or those who identify with some other group of people who feel vulnerable and pushed to the margins. I would ask all members of our community to remember and practice those values and virtues of Godly hospitality that represent the very best of what our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.
What Are We Called to Do?
We are called to serve. A former colleague of mine used to remind me, “David, always remember, we are following the one who hung on the middle cross.” We are not here to serve ourselves or to seek our own. We are here to serve our students, our nation, and our world. Please look around you today and be aware of those who need to be served. Let us serve by guarding our lips and our actions. Let me be even more specific about this. Please join me in affirming that the IWU community does not condone or endorse exclusion of immigrants, violence against women, hatred against minorities, or any other type of language or behavior that dehumanizes our fellow brothers and sisters. We do this not for any political motivation. No politician or political doctrine teaches us to serve in this way. We do this because it is what Jesus modeled, and what he calls us to do.
Friends, today our focus is inevitably on the kingdoms of this world and the power vested in earthly leaders.
But today let us also be reminded of the glory of heaven, a glory that teaches us to pursue more beautiful and lasting ways of living together. Hear God’s Word.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 4:8-11)
[In the coming days the university will provide opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to gather to discuss and process the significance of this election and the ways in which it impacts our IWU community.]