Mueller at Chapel: ‘We are here to be restorers’
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Gillian Rea
GCU News Bureau
As another academic year begins, so does the mission.
And the need to be an example.
Grand Canyon University President Brian Mueller set that can-do tone in his Chapel talk Monday morning. He laid out the mission … with three challenges … and provided a meaningful example of how can-do gets done.
Looking out at an overflow crowd in GCU Arena that had passionately participated in the music of the Worship team, Mueller lauded the quality of GCU’s student body and conveyed his excitement about what is to come in the next eight months.
But he wasn’t just speaking about the classes and projects and activities and athletics. While those elements are huge parts of GCU life, Mueller wanted to make sure the students, especially the newcomers, see the big picture. He constantly gets asked, “What is GCU all about?” Here’s what:
“If you could pick a word that says, ‘What are we here for?’, I would say to you we are here about restoration. We are here to be restorers,” he said.
Just as Jesus did nearly 2,000 years ago. There already was an elaborate church infrastructure when Jesus began, “but something was missing,” Mueller said, and soon Jesus was attracting huge crowds.
Still, it was jarring for people to hear Jesus talk about loving your enemy and praying for those who persecute you as He built the church in His relatively short ministry. Those were foreign concepts to them. But Jesus was undaunted, and in Matthew 7:24-27, at the end of what Mueller called “the greatest sermon ever told,” Jesus said:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
And then Jesus led by example with consistency that was “unbelievable,” Mueller pointed out, by looking for people in distress and helping them in Chapter 8 of Matthew – the leper, the Roman centurion whose servant was paralyzed, and Peter’s ailing mother-in-law.
Even as He hung on the cross with the excruciating pain of the world’s sins on His shoulders, He was looking out for His mother, the thief hanging on a cross next to Him, and the soldiers below.
“Jesus is the greatest teacher in the history of the world, and what do great teachers do? They tell and they show,” Mueller said. “What do great listeners, what do great followers do? They hear and they practice.”
That was laid out in James 1:22-27:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
In 2033, it will have been 2,000 years since Jesus rose from the dead. That will be a time of great reflection, but Mueller hopes to see a lot of action before then.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the next 14 years,” he said. “We have to get back to hearing The Word and doing The Word and being the restorers that Jesus expects us to be.
“What is Grand Canyon University about? Grand Canyon University is about being who Jesus was and is, which is to bring restoration to every part of the broken world that we experience. … When we hear The Word and do The Word, we have been promised that God will bless what we do.”
Mueller closed by talking about how he was inspired by his mother, whom he called “the most prodigious doer that I’ve ever been around.” He talked of how she would visit people in a local nursing home just to give them some company, of how 5% of his memories of her are what she said and 95% are of what she did.
When her family of eight children, 24 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren celebrated her 90th birthday with her this summer, she was challenged to name all of them. She did so with no trouble – because, she said, she arises at 5 a.m. every day and prays for each one by name.
So there are three things for GCU to do this year, he said:
- Help people on campus.
- Turn strangers in the neighborhood into friends.
- Love your enemies.
“I really believe if we do those three things,” he concluded, “God will continue to bless this place as He has blessed this place.”
● Chapel replay.
● Next week: No Chapel because of Labor Day holiday
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.