In Memoriam: Ravi Zacharias on Life, Death, Love, and More

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This morning, the Christian world lost a beloved brother in Christ: Ravi Zacharias. If you haven’t heard of Ravi, let me introduce him.

Born in Madras, India, in 1946, Ravi spent most of his childhood in Delhi. He professed atheism until age 17 when he attempted suicide by poison. While recovering in the hospital, a local Christian worker gave him a Bible, instructing him to read John 14. Upon reading verse 19, “Because I live, you also will live,” his life was forever changed.

Ravi went on to become a passionate defender of the Christian faith. He penned numerous books, including Can Man Live without God? which won the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Gold Medallion Book Award. He was President and Founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), an outreach with offices around the world, and hosted a radio program Let My People Think, broadcast over a thousand stations worldwide. He was intensely evangelistic from a position of deep compassion.

An expert in the disciplines of world religions, cults, and philosophy,1 Ravi was passionate about answering the skeptic’s questions. He spent his life working to remove obstacles that prevented people from believing in Jesus. His mission was to “help the thinker to believe, and the believer to think”2 and to accompany people as they “traverse the longest journey in life—the journey from the head to the heart.”3

He influenced the likes of Louie Giglio, Lecrae, and Tim Tebow.4 And he influenced me. 

And perhaps, through a handful of his quotes, he will influence you.

***

Life

We do not live so that we can eat, nor do we just eat so that we can live. Life is worth living in and of itself. Life cannot be satisfied when it is lived out as a consuming entity. When it is filled by that which satisfies a hunger that is both physical and spiritual in a mutuality that sustains both without violation of either, only then can life be truly fulfilling.5

Struggle

Do not fear the struggle; rather, embrace it. Embrace it in the knowledge that the Grand Weaver will take all of your struggles, questions, disappointments, and fears and use them to build your faith and increasingly make you into a man or woman who looks like Jesus Christ.6

Evil

When you say there’s too much evil in this world, you assume there’s good. When you assume there’s good, you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But if you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral Law Giver, but that’s Who you’re trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there’s no moral Law Giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. What is your question?7

Skepticism

How tragic that so many are living in the darkness of unreason, clinging to their absolute skepticism. The prophecies, person, and work of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, and numerous other affirmations do have points of verification in history. What does the naturalist do with them? . . . The Christian’s faith is not a leap into the dark; it is a well-placed trust in the light—the Light of the World, who is Jesus.8

Calling

God often calls us to things that don’t make sense to us. Some come to their calling through winding paths, some through the nicely paved road of privileged birth or influential friends. Others come through the visitation of circumstances with wanderings and sudden signposts. Finding one’s calling is one of the greatest challenges of life, especially when one has gifts that fan out in many directions.9

Death

At the end of your life one of three things will happen to your heart: it will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender. Nobody escapes. Your heart will become coarse and desensitized, be crushed under the weight of disappointment, or be made tender by that which makes the heart of God tender as well. God’s heart is a caring heart. God seeks those with tender hearts so that he can put his imprint on them. Your hurts and your disappointments are part of that design, to shape your heart and the way you feel about reality. The hurts you live through will always shape you. There is no other way.10

Death is either a full stop or a comma. In the Christian worldview, it is a comma. There is for the Christian both the passing of all things and the abiding in Christ’s provision. The resurrection makes the difference. Jesus’s triumph over death captures my defeat and takes me into his victory.11

God’s love

The idea that God loves us can easily become merely a theoretical statement. We say it often enough, yet I am absolutely certain that even if this truth sinks home, the significance of it seems to wear off with time. We forget the immensity of the truth that God loves us just as we are, in the frailty and the struggle with which we live. Understanding this must more than inform the mind; it must stir the heart with emotion. That is the understanding that feeds wonder. When the truth remains abstract, the soul does not live off the treasure.12

  1. Dr. Howard Hendricks, A Life of Integrity: 13 Outstanding Leaders Raise the Standard for Today’s Christian Men, (Multnomah Publishers, Sisters, OR), 13.
  2. https://www.rzim.org/site/organization/about
  3. https://www.rzim.org/site/organization/about
  4. https://chvnradio.com/christian-news/thankyouravi-tebow-giglio-and-lecrae-want-you-to-send-notes-to-ravi-zacharias
  5. Ravi K. Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message (Thomas Nelson), 2000).
  6. Ravi K. Zacharias, The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us through the Events of Our Lives (Grand Rapids, MI, MI: Zondervan), 2010.
  7. Facebook post by Ravi Zacharias, August 20, 2014.
  8. Ravi K. Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message (Thomas Nelson), 2000.
  9. Ravi K. Zacharias, There Is a Plan (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2009.
  10. Ravi K. Zacharias, There Is a Plan (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2009.
  11. http://saltandlight.sg/news/full-of-emotions-but-also-peace-ravi-zacharias-stops-cancer-treatment-to-spend-whatever-time-the-lord-gives-us-with-family/
  12. Ravi K. Zacharias, Recapture the Wonder (Integrity Publishers), 2005.

Comments

  1. Woodrine Phillips says

    How can we be sad when he is with our Father God? He has left us with his teaching and kind words. We will be with him in heaven one day if we know Jesus Christ as our savior. Prayers and love to his family.?

  2. Our loss. Heaven’s gain.