If I were to generate a list of the most influential people in my life, I would be remiss to leave out Ravi Zacharias. As many of you may know, Ravi passed away earlier this morning, May 19th, from an aggressive and rare form of cancer in his back. I remember first listening to him in 2008 on the way to church, not then realizing the effect he would have on my life. Ravi's sermons and speeches always had an impact on me, and I will always be grateful that he allowed God to use him in such a way.
When I first discovered that Ravi was struggling with cancer, I did not realize the severity of the issue. Receiving the news that he was sent home because there remained no further treatment to stymie the effects of the cancer was like taking a punch to the gut. Now, only a few months later, the church is saying a tearful goodbye to one of its greatest advocates.
Amidst the unbridled chaos created by COVID-19 and the disheartening unrest that our world typically harbors, Ravi's death adds to the collective pessimism; however, I believe that it is his life rather than his death at which we should look in order to garner the true value this man brought to the world.
Though this excellent teacher is no longer with us, what, and more importantly who, he stood for still exists and is eternal. I believe Hebrews 13:7-8 echoes an applicable word for us today, "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." The beauty of our faith is that it transcends past this life on earth because it reflects the eternal, undying, and unchanging glory of our Father. Ravi's legacy will live because Jesus lives.
Let us imitate the soft-spoken and strong manner in which Ravi shared the gospel. Let us remember that we must share the truth under-girded with love. Let us live our lives in such a way as to reflect the glory and love of the one we serve. Let us worship the same unmovable God.
Ravi loved to quote the British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, and I remember a particular passage he would read in his sermons and speeches. Muggeridge writes:
We look back upon history and what do we see?
Empires rising and falling, revolutions and counterrevolutions, wealth accumulating and and then disbursed, one nation dominant and then another. Shakespeare speaks of the “rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon.”
In one lifetime I have seen my own countrymen ruling over a quarter of the world, the great majority of them convinced, in the words of what is still a favorite song, that “God who’s made them mighty would make them mightier yet.”
I’ve heard a crazed, cracked Austrian proclaim to the world the establishment of a German Reich that would last for a thousand years; an Italian clown announce he would restart the calendar to begin with his own assumption of power; a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin acclaimed by the intellectual elite of the western world as wiser than Solomon, more enlightened than Asoka, more humane than Marcus Aurelius.
I’ve seen America wealthier and in terms of military weaponry more powerful than all the rest of the world put together, so that Americans, had they so wished, could have outdone an Alexander or a Julius Caesar in the range and scale of their conquests.
All in one little lifetime. All gone with the wind.
England now part of an island off the coast of Europe and threatened with dismemberment and even bankruptcy.
Hitler and Mussolini dead and remembered only in infamy.
Stalin a forbidden name in the regime he helped to found and dominate for some three decades.
America haunted by fears of running out of the precious fluid that keeps the motorways roaring and the smog settling, with troubled memories of a disastrous campaign in Vietnam and of the great victories of the Don Quixotes of the media when they charged the windmills of Watergate.
All in one lifetime, all in one lifetime, all gone. Gone with the wind.
Ravi would then add his own, fitting postscript:
Behind the debris of these solemn supermen, and self-styled imperial diplomatists, there stands the gigantic figure of one, because of whom, by whom, in whom and through whom alone, mankind may still have peace: The person of Jesus Christ. I present him as the way, the truth, and the life.
This is the truth for which Ravi stood, and it is this truth that should give us all hope and confidence despite the loss we faced today. Jesus Christ is the unmovable anchor to which our faith is tied, and there is no better absolute off which to build. In remembering Ravi, let us remember the savior and friend who "is the same yesterday and today and forever"
I will leave you with these final thoughts. Upon reflecting on his mother's death, Ravi tells the story of his initial pain and his blessed hope. He recalls:
I finally went to my dad and said, "All I can think about is that Mom is gone."
"Why don't you get down on your knees," Dad gently suggested, "and ask the Lord to help you."
As I went to my knees with only that thought - "she's gone" - I sensed the Lord saying to me, "If you must insist that she is gone, at least finish the thought. "She has gone - where?"
Ah! The thought was completed in my mind. "Home," I said. "She has gone home!" Home to be with the one who made her. What a difference to know that!
Ravi Zacharias has gone home to be with the one who made him. Indeed, what a difference it is to know that!