Another hero falls asleep in 2020.
This sure is the year that keeps on giving or shall we say, taking?
One question that has been making the rounds in my mind is simply this: what compelled millions around the world listen to the voice of a man who once tried to commit suicide?
Here are three lessons I have learnt from Ravi’s life and ministry.
Don’t underestimate simplicity
Ravi had an unmistakable ability to communicate truth with such incisive clarity and simplicity. Whether on a panel or on stage by himself, it was simply Ravi, his Bible and his notes – no gimmicks. His teachings were not theatre productions with many moving parts. All you would see was a silver-haired man expounding the Gospel, no supporting acts, no drama.
Disguised in that ordinary looking silver-haired man from India was a memory the size of an elephant, an ever fresh fountain of knowledge and wisdom, wittiness that would stun even the chronically cynical , all powered by God.
In a global and therefore shrinking world, there is the temptation to put on masks and add on layers and layers of ‘stuff’ just so we can be noticed. We think the more eccentric and ‘wacky’ we are, the louder our voices will be. In this world, the introvert and lover of simplicity is labelled boring and condemned to expire on the shelf.
In Ravi, I saw that life and ministry does not have to be all bells and whistle. Ravi’s simplicity has made room for others who simply want to get the job done in an understated way. At the end of the day, it wasn’t the stage lighting or smoke machine that filled arenas – it was the knife edge clarity of the message that attracted thirsty souls.
Just like over 2,000 years ago, a poor carpenter’s son with a crystal clear message shook the foundations of the world, Ravi Zacharias a once suicidal young man pierced the hearts of kings and princes with a clear message.
Never underestimate the potency of simplicity.
All questions are welcome
Ravi Zacharias’ ministry genuinely provided a platform for seeking hearts to ask questions about God. I believe the reason he was so accommodating to questions was because he was a questioner himself.
Whether you are a veteran or a new fledgling believer, everyone has questions. The posturing of Ravi’s ministry basically announced to the believer and atheist, “all questions are welcome.”
From experience, two things stop people from asking questions – hubris and fear. Hubris because we ignorantly (and pitifully) assume that we know all there is to know about God and fear because religion has successfully created a pharisaical facade that knowledge of the deep things of God is reserved to the big wigs in smoke filled rooms.
You’d be surprised how much of what we call modern Christianity is stuff that has been chewed on by so called religious leaders and regurgitated on to sheepish, undiscerning followers. Right, I’ll save that rant for another day… The point is, Ravi’s encouragement of questions fostered a ‘democratisation’ of the knowledge of God to all sincere seekers.
We need more of this in the Church and in Christendom as a whole. Like Paul, there’s no way Ravi could have dedicated and sacrificed nearly 50 years of his life to something he couldn’t examine freely under a microscope.
There’s no way he would have walked the sometimes lonely, hard and difficult road of itinerant preaching bearing the burden of the Gospel if he simply turned off his mind and didn’t examine the validity of the burden he was bearing.
You see, he was able to endure because he grew in the knowledge of the load he was carrying and that in turn birthed a voracious and steadfast acceptance of the burden. The key thing here is, you don’t acquire such conviction-birthing knowledge without asking sometimes difficult questions.
So, if you want to honour Ravi, start asking questions.
The inextricable link between truth and compassion
When I listened to Ravi’s teachings, I could hear the undercurrent of compassion which accompanied the truth he delivered. Truth can either be wielded as a weapon of mass destruction or a soothing balm to aching souls.
Ravi followed in the footsteps of Christ who was moved with compassion at the sight of the multitude who were “weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36 NKJV). Like Jesus, Ravi wasn’t simply interested in winning the argument but pointing people to the Living water which was guaranteed to quench their thirst.
So, dear Christian, please handle the truth responsibly. It must be served with copious amount of compassion and love otherwise, you’ll end up doing damage to the cause of Christ, not to the kingdom of the Devil.
That you have an intellect the size of Alaska does not give you the right to be disrespectful, rude or crass. Truth without love is a wrecking ball.
I think I had better stop here for now.
How was Ravi to have known that the life he was so desperate to end when he was 17 would later on birth millions of lives around the world? It’s simply amazing what God can do with the broken pieces of our lives.
I can’t think of a better way to honour you Ravi than to keep pecking away at my computer, believing that we can change minds and hearts one truthful yet loving syllable at a time.
#ThankYouRavi. Till we meet at the feet of Christ.