As a University, we are in the process of clarifying the core values of Olivet. As our President said the first chapel of this semester, we are looking for the marks of Olivet, and of an Olivetian. What are the distinctives — the beliefs that set us apart? Who are we, anyway? (Still looking for that tattoo, Dr. Bowling?)
When we ask questions like these, they cause us to ask questions at varying levels when it comes to how we see ourselves as a University. We believe in a liberal arts education, and that is expressed by the 100-plus majors we have here. But, our mission doesn’t end there, does it?
We believe in educating in a very specific way, thus our motto, “Education with a Christian Purpose.” But honestly, that doesn’t say enough anymore. The word “Christian” in our motto is also defined in a very specific way. You can go to a host of other “Christian” colleges and universities, and your educational —as well as spiritual and social development — would look much different than it does here. We often make fun of ourselves, hearing this place often described as “the bubble.”
I find it ironic that when we wrestle with the questions stated above, it takes us not only to the core of our University, but to the center of ourselves. Dr. Bowling has always said that this place is only as good as the people who are here — students, faculty and staff alike.
So let me segue now, if I may. There is no better time of the year for us to wrestle with these questions as an institution than during Lent. During Lent, we have the opportunity to take a look at our lives, share in the passion of Christ, and experience again the fact that the one called Jesus was just a human as we are. He had feelings just like we do. He got angry and frustrated, just like we do. He was encouraged and discouraged by the same group of 12 men, almost daily. He felt physical and emotional pain. He died, just like we will. Lent is a time when we re-center ourselves on these truths, reminding ourselves again of why He came, so we can better understand why we are here.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard me say or write this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I believe the only way to truly discover who we are, is in a fully restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That’s it.
During Lent, this is what reshapes us. This is what enables us to live the life God has for us. This is what gives us the strength to walk through our tough, even dark days, knowing that Jesus did as well. So, we “lose ourselves” in this. This is what makes us who we were created to be. As this takes place in our lives, it makes this place special. It’s also what makes your home and your church unique.
So, who are we? That’s only found when we “lose ourselves” in the One who can help us “find ourselves.”