Sleep on This: Some sad news about Ravi Zacharias (May 11)
Good evening, friend:
I received some very sad news this weekend. Ravi Zacharias, world-renowned apologist and a friend of Chapel Hill, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The only treatment he will receive is palliative. He is returning to his home in Atlanta to share the final lap of his well-run life with his family.
Chapel Hill has enjoyed a particularly close relationship with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) since 2007. We were blessed by RZIM speakers such as Michael Ramsden and John Lennox. Many of our people have traveled to Oxford to participate in their Summer Institute. Our own elder Rich Jasper has taught at that institute for several years. Pastor Ellis and I actually met in one of the RZIM classrooms! And, of course, we were blessed to have Ravi himself preach at our church two years ago.
Few voices in our generation have been more effective at speaking into the rampaging secularism of our time. Ravi’s sweet spot, the university campus, was a venue that might strike terror in the hearts of most preachers (myself included, if I’m honest.) But his graciously irrefutable responses to often aggressive questions always impressed me. The word “trenchant” comes to mind. It means “sharp, keen, vigorously effective and articulate.” Ravi’s defense of the gospel has always been trenchant…and kind.
For many years, Ravi’s radio program, “Let My People Think,” was playing on my radio as I drove to church on Sunday mornings. His unflappable and winsome presentation of the gospel was often the last thing I heard before I got up to preach to my congregation. I’m sure my preaching was made better by his influence. My confidence in the gospel message surely was.
Now, Ravi’s ministry and time upon this earth is coming to a close. I communicated recently with Michael Ramsden who has assumed leadership of RZIM, expressing my prayerful support as he steps into these large shoes. Though the ministry bears Ravi’s name, it is bigger than the man, in part because he has devoted his life to spotting, training, and raising up great talent. Ravi’s legacy will continue well after he has breathed his last, another tribute to the brilliance and humility of his leadership.
God in his grace called Ravi to Christian faith from out of a predominantly non-Christian culture…and used him to extend that same invitation to millions of people around the world. For decades, Ravi has proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins, raised to new life, reigning triumphant and one day, judge of all humankind. We do not know how large is the company of those who were called from death into the heavenly presence of Christ because of this ministry. But, sooner than any of us would have wished, Ravi will know that number precisely. For he will join those who have preceded him in this journey that all of us will one day take.
The apostle Paul once wrote these words to the Christians in Rome: For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
May that assurance bring to Ravi, his family and the millions beholden to him, the peace that passes all human understanding.
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, I lift up with gratitude your servant, Ravi Zacharias. May he sense your pleasure for a life lived in faithful devotion to you. May that example inspire me to make the most of the gifts you have given me and the calling you have laid upon my life. Lord, fill Ravi with your Holy Spirit and grant him your peace. Amen.
P.S.— I believe my Mother’s Day message was one of the most important I’ve preached regarding the legacy that we leave with our children. If you haven’t yet watched it, I urge you to do so. Here’s the link.