Griffin’s catchy Chapel talk goes big on ‘Smalls’
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Gillian Rea
GCU News Bureau
If you love baseball, you probably love “The Sandlot,” the 1993 movie depicting a group of young boys playing baseball in the summer of ’62.
“Why it didn’t win an Oscar, I don’t know,” Dr. Tim Griffin, Pastor and Dean of Students at Grand Canyon University, said during his Chapel talk Monday at GCU Arena. “One of my favorite movies of all time.”
It’s the movie that produced the famous line, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls.” But when Griffin showed a clip of Scotty Smalls miraculously catching a flyball after a big assist from the kid in the L.A. Dodgers cap, Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, it was meant to underscore a great message, not just a great memory.
“This story shows a great clip of somebody coming alongside of somebody that was broken and stressed and overwhelmed by his set of circumstances …” Griffin said. “This individual came alongside of him and was using his life much like it happens when (we) experience God’s ministry in our lives through others and sometimes supernaturally.”
Griffin centered his talk around Matthew 11:25-30, in which God is revealed through Jesus. Our Lord didn’t mince words in establishing His ministry.
“Up to this point … He has been dropping some bombs,” Griffin said. “I think most of us kind of think of Jesus a little bit like Mister Rogers – kind and sweet and tender. If you back up from Scripture and you look at it and you try to frame your mind (around) what must have been going on in some of those moments where He is just meeting things head on, my guess is that it wasn’t quite like a Mister Rogers scene.”
Jesus’ main target was hypocritical religious leaders who “would pile on the weight of religion on the backs of the people.” Griffin’s main audience was students, and he wanted them to learn four things from this passage of Matthew.
The first one is having a childlike faith, exhibited in verses 25-26:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what You were pleased to do.”
For Griffin, it evokes thoughts of the three grandchildren he has been blessed with in the last three years. He never tires of hearing them say, “I love you.”
“There’s something precious and fragile and innocent about the faith of a child, the love of a child,” Griffin said. “… There is something powerful when you come to Jesus in that innocent, loving way, just like a child.”
The second lesson is in verse 27:
“All things have been committed to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”
“That is a work of the spirit of God, not of religion, not of duty, not of tradition,” Griffin said, adding that discovering God is like being given sight, “like there was light in the room for the first time.”
Lesson No. 3 is in verse 28:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
It’s a simple proposition, Griffin said. All you have to do is come to Him in your weariness and “acknowledge your need.”
Verses 29-30 sum it all up:
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
“It’s nothing like the world gives to you,” Griffin said. “‘You follow Me, and your life will be completely different.’ That’s what those listeners were hearing when Jesus was speaking those words. They’re like, ‘Can it be that it’s not what all these religious leaders are telling me? Could it be different?’”
Griffin had opened his talk with the clip of British track and field athlete Derek Redmond being helped to the finish line by his father, Jim, after snapping his hamstring in a semifinal of the 400-meter run in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Redmond’s dependence on his father and his dad’s support of him is just like what Jesus is willing to do for us, if only we ask.
“Jesus is the One,” Griffin said, “who can bring restoration to the soul and heart of a man or a woman who will go to Him like a child and crawl up in the lap of God and say, ‘Take me. I give up. I resign myself to You.’”
● Chapel replay.
● Next Monday’s speaker: Vermon Pierre, Roosevelt Community Church
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].