And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
If you look closely at this quilt made by my 94-year-old mother-in-law, you may notice the stitched words “Blessed by the gift of diversity.” For sure, John Knox Christian School is a diverse community. Looking at our broader communities beyond our school, we see even richer diversity in God’s creation. I recall a tile on my mother-in- law’s wall that says: “All the world is strange except me and thee and even thee is a bit strange”. In my under- standing, this spoke to the wonderment of difference and the uniqueness of how I was created.
“Our neighbor” takes on many forms and loving our neighbor can challenge us in many ways. We may find it easier to love the child who is struggling with deep sadness but find it more difficult to follow this commandment when the student is challenged and challenges us in ways that make us uncomfortable.
The Biblical message is clear; God is sovereign, we should not fear differences and we should love those around us without exceptions.
As a faith community we need to lead particularly in this area, and more particularly as it is second in order but not in importance to the great and first commandment. That is … “love the Lord your God”. In fact, loving your neighbor as yourself is found eight times in the Bible.
When we learn to revel in God’s gift of diversity, we will tend to set aside judgement and replace it with love that is grounded in Biblical truth, inclusive and seeks for the safety of our students as a first priority. Regardless of their circumstance.
By Paul Tigchelaar