Diversity, adversity and our new home

Last weekend I attended SCORR, and for one of the first times in my life I felt out of place because of my ethnicity.

John Drebinger, Writer

Last weekend I attended Biola’s 14th annual Student Congress On Racial Reconciliation, and for one of the first times in my life I felt out of place because of my ethnicity.

Even though I have engaged in the reconciliation conversation ever since I arrived at Biola, SCORR was a new kind of experience for me. I’ve discussed reconciliation with American students, international students and students of numerous ethnicities, and I’ve found there are a few specific problems that tend to hold us back:

The first is that people don’t like being accused of racism, and in order to avoid that accusation they often stay out of the conversation altogether. Another common thread all backgrounds share is that they don’t know what to believe or how to evaluate whether or not our efforts are truly unifying us as a body. Lastly, people don’t have any safe avenues where they can discuss the issue without feeling like they’ll be accused of racism or ungratefulness. SCORR landed on campus to try and solve this problem.

The information shared at SCORR was compelling, forcing me to broaden my lens and learn to empathize with people’s struggles in light of broken societies and fallen humanity. At the same time, there were moments that I felt my culture was on trial and that assumptions were being made about me because of my skin color. It seems that no matter how gently we approach this topic, somebody is always going to experience some kind of pain or offense. This leads us to the question, “Is what we’re pursuing worth all of the pain that inevitably follows?”

Before you can decide you have to determine what it is we’re pursuing and what it’s worth. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are one body, needing each individual part in the fullness of its unique purpose. The eye is gifted with sight, and the ear gifted with hearing. Without each other they are useless. While each bears a distinct identity, when they work together they share a common identity as the body of Christ. Similarly when different cultures, races and experiences collide at Biola, a new community is created.

Author Jonathan Sacks explains that when we give our differences and uniqueness to serve the community, we find a sense of belonging and we help build a new community — one that we can call home. This home is worth the struggle; it is worth the pain that comes with the difficulty of sharing in a diverse community. It also serves as a training ground for living out the call of being a unified body.

Events like SCORR are a good start to recognizing how our differences enrich community, but in order to achieve true unity we must be committed to praying together and serving side by side so that we can learn to share in God’s work as one.

Only then can we feel a true sense of belonging, and find ourselves in the home we’ve built together.

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