By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
An unusual start to the fall semester at Grand Canyon University called for a special message at the first Chapel, and Dr. Tim Griffin certainly had something special to say.
The Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and University Pastor wanted the mostly homebound students to get in the right mindset as they prepared for classes to begin online Tuesday and thought ahead to their return to campus later this month.
It was a classic “What would Jesus do?” moment.
The goal is simple: to have campus life be as fruitful as possible despite the pandemic and for the semester to continue to the end with a minimum of COVID-19 cases.
“But if that’s going to happen,” Griffin said, “we can’t think only about ourselves. The challenge, for us, is to make this commitment as a community.”
Like ground classes for the first three weeks of the semester, the first three Chapel services are online. The Worship team played its music outside on the video before Griffin reminded students how important it will be to follow the protocols that should be second nature by now.
“I want you to think differently about your experience here at GCU,” he said.
Then he pointed to Philippians 2:1-4 for an example of how the apostle Paul, infused by the Holy Spirit and inspired by the example Jesus set, thought differently from the secular world:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Griffin said he understands the excitement of students, some of them coming to college for the first time, as they look to rekindle friendships and create new ones. But he urged them to put it in a higher context.
“We come, try to gather all these things so that our life is much richer when we leave,” he said. “But if we don’t appreciate what it means to follow Jesus and have this sense of giving ourselves away, of serving others, we won’t really find what we’re looking for.”
It’s possible to serve others in a variety of places.
“I just want to encourage you to back up just for a minute,” he continued, “and say, ‘God, help me to think about others that I’ll interact with when I’m on campus, whether it’s in the classroom, whether it’s in an eatery, whether it’s on an intramural field, or wherever it might be,’ to think, ‘Man, I need to take care of him or her. They’re more important than me.’"
So Griffin defined students’ commitment three ways:
- Follow Jesus
- Love others
- Do it together
“I hope that when you are climbing out of your car in front of your building and moving your things in, that God will prompt your heart and remind you to think about others, to pour yourself out to them and make them more important than yourself," he concluded.
“That is the way Jesus would land on this campus. I want you to encourage you to do the same.”
● Chapel replay.
● Next week’s speaker: Noe Garcia, North Phoenix Baptist Church
GCU Today: Chapel message gives employees virtual boost