As the gift of Christian education reaches into more and more communities, the reality of the diversity that exists generally in our world also becomes the reality in Christian schools. And that is a good thing. As will be clear from the articles in this issue of CEJ, many people in Christian communities have thought deeply about the question of diversity. A number of conclusions are suggested by their work.
It is clear from the Bible that God’s creatures, human and otherwise, display a tremendous array of diversity in color, appearance, language, in their personal circumstances, and in giftedness. In that diversity, we see the creative power of God, and also God’s enjoyment in the differences that exist in creation. God did not intend for our world to be homogenous and monochromatic.
At the same time, diversity is something with which all of us struggle. We should acknowledge, I think, that people who are different from us and situations with which we are unfamiliar, make us uncomfortable. Such experiences challenge our assumptions about who we are, how we live, and how we relate to others.
Of course, if we happen to be white people in overwhelmingly white neighbourhoods, churches, and schools, our discomfort can be contained. We do not really have to think too much about people whose color, language, and lifestyles may be different from ours, simply because our contact with such people is limited, and they do not challenge what we believe or how we live.
But if we ignore the diversity in our world, and if we, consciously or otherwise, take steps to prevent that diversity from entering our Christian schools, several things happen. The first is that some of God’s people will be injured when they are marginalized, and some will be injured by participation in the sins that result in that marginalization. And that is something that Jesus—with his very explicit acceptance of the lepers, the beggars, the prostitutes and the tax collectors, those on the margins of society in his day—spoke and acted against constantly. We are whole people only when we accept the reality that we are part of a diverse creation where all belong and all are called to serve.
The second is that we, by keeping diversity at bay, are missing out on the enjoyment of the richness of God’s good creation. When we accept the fact that our world is filled with many kinds of people, and when we celebrate that diversity, we are able wonder at the richness that all of God’s people bring to the world. And in Christian schools our praise of God will be more glorious and our understanding of God’s world will be more complete.
In this issue you will read contributions that focus on issues of race, sexual orientation, economic circumstances, learning styles and school policies around admissions and diversity. I trust that, even if some of the issues raised make you uncomfortable, you will be encouraged to think more deeply about what an amazing blessing it is be part of God’s wonderfully diverse family.