Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tribute to Vernon Grounds

Not many of us will know who Dr Vernon Grounds is. If you are like me, you will probably have heard more about Denver Seminary than this past president of the esteemed theological institution. This man of God went home to the Lord on September 12th, 2010 at the age of 96, after having touched many lives.  I myself am moved by the tributes of how this man has brought along a positive influence for many. Though I have not met this man, the way that people have praised his work and his warm personality is enough to touch heart strings.
Photo Credit: Denver Seminary

A) Dr Bruce Shelley's Tribute
The late Dr Shelley calls Grounds as one who lives:
"By stressing the centrality of Christian love and its role in life and ministry, Grounds helped to reshape the movement’s outlook and central mission in the world. “A fellowship of love,” he once said, “is the goal of human life.  God made man to live in love with Himself and his neighbor.” And since men and women are made to live in love, they experience self-fulfillment only as they achieve human relationships which give them “a secure feeling of ‘at-one-ment.” In such relationships, he said, they are understood, accepted, and valued, but apart from such relationships they exist in loneliness, insecurity, and frustration." (excerpted from his tribute here.)
Shelley writes about how Dr Grounds engages the intellectual challenges during his time. A trained psychologist, he tries to see the world through both Christian as well as non-Christian eyes. As honest as he can, he finds that the latter view as depressing and hopeless. Yet, instead of dismissing people who hold atheistic views, his response is to pray. This is the gem of a response. Too often we are too quick to debate and to argue our points of view. Do we not know that spiritual things need to be handled by the Spirit? We can only show the way. The chief organ is prayer. In that mood, the way our words flow out will be that of grace and peace.

B) Gordon MacDonald's Tribute
This tribute is a lot more personal, from one of the most renowned authors in the Christian publishing world. MacDonald paints Grounds as personal mentor, a good friend and a wise man who patiently were there for him in his hour of need. He writes:
"He never seemed to give up on anyone because he so strongly believed in both mercy and fresh starts as the essence of Jesus' gospel. I know this because, years ago, I was one of those who crawled to that door. When I went through a time of personal and catastrophic failure, he was there to remind me of this "gospel of the second chance." (Excerpted from ChristianityToday's article here)
My Comments
Having recently lost my father, eulogies and tributes have become especially meaningful for me. It tells me about the way we can honour those who have passed on, especially those who have demonstrated Christlikeness and godliness in their own lives. Dr Vernon Grounds' life will stand out as one godly man who has lived a life in such a way that people can see Christ in their lives.

Perhaps, this is the goal of all disciples of Christ. Live in such a way that people can readily tell the Christ that is in us. In fact, the biggest tribute anyone can give me will be the following:
"When I see you, I see the Christ in you."

May the Lord grant me grace to be more Christlike each day. God bless Vernon Grounds.


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