Ravi Zacharias recently passed away, to be with His Savior whom he loved so much. I wanted to take a few moments out of my very busy and hectic life to share my thoughts on this man of faith, and his impact on my life.
Listen to an audio recording of this blog entry here.
About twenty years ago, a friend of mine mentioned suggested I should look into Ravi Zacharias and his ministry. For a time, I brushed aside the suggestion. I had seen so many preachers that I simply did not care for. Many of them simply parroted the same rhetoric I already heard countless times. Eventually, I relented, and listened to a few of Ravi’s sermons, as well as some of his Q&A sessions. I am so glad I did.
Ravi spoke with a clarity and simplicity that often got right to the heart of any given matter. During a college Q&A, a student asked Ravi why he (allegedly) feared subjective ethics and reasoning. Ravi answered with the question, “Do you lock your door at night?” Despite these occasional zingers, Ravi always answered those questions and challenges with grace and humility.
Ravi’s answers were always rooted in logic and deep reasoning. Because of this, even secular colleges would invite him to speak and answer student’s questions. He tackled topics such as atheism, evolution, science vs faith, and ethical dilemmas. He always did a great job of bringing any conversation or question back to the most important message of all, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the same time, he wrote numerous books, many of which I read. A series of them imagined Jesus conversing with other major religious and moral leaders, such as Krishna or Budha. Others answered the tough questions of our time about ethics and the Christian faith. Ravi often addressed the criticisms that atheism has for the Bible head-on. He clearly drew much inspiration from prior men of faith who wrote from an intellectual perspective, such as CS Lewis. I cannot recommend his books enough, and enjoy talking about them with others.
“What it means to find your destiny is to find your creator.” – Ravi Zacharias
They say that knowledge puffs up and leads to pride. Ravi walked with God in such a way that he rarely, if ever, came across as prideful. In fact, most would argue that Ravi’s defining characteristic was humility. Yet, he never backed down from the truth, or an opportunity to share it. His ministry had a goal to help “thinkers believe and believers think.” In a world where many define right and wrong based purely on their own feelings, Ravi fought for an objective world view based on God and His Word. At the same time, he spoke on those more intangible issues, like justice, that we all yearn for.
“God has put enough into the world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing. But He has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason or observation alone.” – Ravi Zacharias
Yet, Ravi did an excellent job staying away from those topics and in-house debates that he felt did not contribute to the spreading of the gospel. In the early 2000s, I heard a lot of debate about Calvinism, predestination, institutional-ism, leadership of the church, and so much more. Ravi and his team did not allow such topics to detract them from their God-given mission to spread the message of the Gospel. He tackled only those topics that he knew directly tied into that, and left it to others to expend their time and energy on lesser matters.
I recall a time when the Church of Latter-Day Saints invited Ravi to speak in Salt Lake City at their tabernacle. Many opposed the idea because they felt that Ravi’s presence there would give an implied approval of the religion. It became quite the scandal in theological circles. Yet, Ravi felt that any opportunity to share Jesus and the gospel message carried immense value, and felt it worth any such risk. About a decade later, he accept another opportunity from that organization to do the same event again. Ravi did not allow pressure to dissuade him from doing what God called Him to do.
The depths of mystery and love found in the Cross can never be fully plumbed, but it must be the lifelong pursuit of the Christian to marvel at its costliness and to celebrate its meaning. – Ravi Zacharias
Ultimately, I feel like I have learned so much from Ravi, and yet have so much to learn, especially on the points of humility and focus. I certainly struggle with feeling irritated at others, which often results in prideful like behavior. I often fail to listen completely to my listener, already confident I know the answer before they have finished speaking. Ravi’s speaking engagements continue to teach me that showing love and grace to the other in speaking and listening plays as critical a role as communicating the truth.
As many of you have seen right here on this blog, I often allow ‘lesser matters’ to pull my attention astray. Certainly, we all have various callings from God. As such, we will all have different approaches from each other and Ravi. Yet, for myself, I admit that many of the things I waste time discussing and arguing have little to nothing to do with what truly matters. Jesus died for us so we may be saved from our sin. When we follow Him and become born again, He gives us all a new heart that yearns for spiritual things that matter. We should focus on that message, rather than the secondary matters which would fall into place when people follow the savior. Take care of what’s truly important first, and the rest falls into place.[audio
“Death is either a full stop or a comma. In the Christian worldview, it is a comma.” -Ravi Z
Ultimately, I thank God for the example Ravi left for us, the countless messages we can listen to today, and the dozens of books we can read. I pray that God will help me to bless others by sharing the Gospel with them in life, word and deed as well.
We live with deep hungers within the human heart:
The hunger for truth, as lies proliferate.
The hunger for love, as we see hate ruling the day.
The hunger for justice, as we see injustice mocking the law.
The hunger for forgiveness, when we ourselves fail and stumble.
There is only one place in the world where these hungers converge: it is in the Cross of Christ, where perfect love and perfect justice became united in one death on a Friday afternoon. – Ravi
If you have questions, thoughts or concerns you would like to share, feel free to reach out to me in the comment section below, via Twitter @jcservant or via email – jcservant at cyberlightcomics dot com. Thank you and God bless!