Tuesday, May 19, 2020 : By John Wesley Reid, Falkirk Ambassador
“Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”
There’s an imperative difference between being right and making an eternal impact. One can have a sharp mind and completely waste it, even in a ministerial capacity. But then there are those who use their God-given intellect as a means of returning the lost to their First Love. The late Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias leaves behind a spectrum of attributes that the Church should strive to emulate:
Ravi wanted to win souls, not just be right.
“Don’t be fearful of being in the right, be fearful of being in the wrong. So, go out with courage and let God anoint you and equip you to do what He has called you to do.”
Ravi’s intellect was saturated in kindness. While speaking with crowds, he understood the valid concerns that his audiences had, having been a skeptic himself in his early life, and that oftentimes their answers were not meant to challenge Ravi but to genuinely seek a remedy to their dissatisfaction with agnosticism. Ravi was wise and incredibly equipped as a Christian apologist. But his deliveries show that his concern was far more for the salvation of the lost rather than any personal accolades.
Ravi didn’t avoid unpopular answers.
Some Christians of influence today will avoid speaking on culturally taboo topics such as sin or hell, citing a fear of sounding judgmental or mean. It should be noted that of every topic Jesus spoke about during his earthly ministry, sin and hell were among the leading concerns he expressed towards his audiences. On the topic of Hell, Ravi often quoted C.S. Lewis:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it.”
Ravi followed Christ’s example of discussing imperative matters and for the same reason as Christ– His love for His people.
After speaking at Indiana University, a woman told Ravi that her problem with Christianity was the Church’s position on homosexuality. Ravi’s response to the woman was both truthful and kind. He explained to her that God’s intent for marriage was “a consummate relationship between a man and a woman” and that it was the only relationship that encompasses the four Greek words for love (agape, the love of God; eros, romantic love; philia, friendship; and storge, a love of family). Marriage before God cannot exist outside of his intent for marriage. Ravi then explained to the woman that despite any disagreement on worldview, Christians are called to love everyone and to treat them with dignity.
Ravi was pro-life, pro-religious liberty, and pro-family.
Ravi was a signatory of the Manhattan Statement, a formal declaration affirming the biblical principles of human dignity, the sanctity of marriage, and religious freedom. An excerpt from the statement reads:
In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.
Ravi was the keynote speaker at the pro-life Heartbeat International’s 2014 annual conference, where he encouraged laborers in the pro-life movement to hold fast to their daunting and rewarding pursuits:
“You are apologists for life. You are protecting the youngest and weakest, and I say to you, fuel that faith horse that God has given you. Prioritize it by prayer. Go through all of the steps and one day you will bring peace for the people and certainly help change history.”
Ravi leaves behind a legacy of influence and eternal impact. The hard truths he spoke with resounding grace, the charity he lent towards those who opposed him, and the effort he showed in advancing the Kingdom are all attributes he will be remembered by.
“There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny.”