We lost a tall tree on the evangelical landscape. Recently Ravi Zacharias went to be with the Lord, but his legacy of a life well lived will continue to live on for generations.
As a young man pursuing my pastoral calling, Ravi’s profound influence on me and on the cultural and formative development of Christ Community cannot be overly stated. Every book that Ravi wrote, I read immediately. Ravi’s books still have a prominent place on my study bookshelf and have in many ways shaped the contours of my mind.
Ravi’s heartfelt conviction that the Christian faith was a rigorous intellectual faith with coherent meaning and logical consistency paved the way for a generation of evangelicals to embrace a humble confidence in biblical orthodoxy. I often remember Ravi saying,
“The human heart cannot embrace what the mind rejects.”
How true that statement has been in my own spiritual journey.
As one of the church’s most persuasive apologists, Ravi possessed a world-class intellect; yet even more compelling was the apologetics of his Christ-like life. Ravi’s love, gentle warmth, and respect toward others, even those who vociferously disagreed with his worldview, was on display with whomever he met and wherever he traveled around the globe. I observed this in his kind and respectful interaction with others dining together at Plaza III in Kansas City, sharing a quiet lunch at a restaurant near Oxford, and when he fielded fiery questions after a large group lecture. In a day of so many shallow narcissistic Christian celebrity leaders, Ravi was the real deal.
Ravi’s commitment and enthusiasm for the local church evidenced a life with rightly ordered loves. Ravi loved Jesus, and because he loved Jesus, he loved the local church. I am eternally grateful that for whatever reason, Ravi’s enthusiasm for Christ Community in particular led him to prioritize travel to Kansas City on three occasions. Ravi loved what Christ was doing here and he invested a great deal in our church culture and mission.
I will always be grateful for his many words of personal encouragement as well as his enthusiastic endorsement of our book, Work Matters. Having a bird’s eye view of the global church, Ravi saw the compelling need for whole life discipleship that equipped God’s people for the work they are called to do throughout the week. Like in so many areas of his life, Ravi not only was an astute observer of culture, he was a wise and needed prophetic voice to the church.
While I could say much more about Ravi Zacharias, let me conclude by acknowledging perhaps what impressed me most about his life and work.
While Ravi Zacharias was highly gifted and placed on a global stage, Ravi Zacharias Ministries was never about him. He understood and modeled for the world to see that one of the greatest signs of effective leadership is the culture of generativity they nurture around them and the sustaining institutions they leave behind. Ravi had a wonderful way of spotting leadership gifts and then, out of the reservoir of his humility, mentoring and empowering others to lead.
In a time when we have such a crisis of leadership both within the church and in the world, how I thank God for Ravi Zacharias and his life well lived. “Well done good and faithful servant you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much, Enter into the joy of your Master.”