It was just another seemingly mundane morning in the backseat of my father’s Chevy Lumina. I was a freshman in highschool, and those 45 minute drives were usually spent sleeping. There was one morning though, that I’ll never forget. It was about 7:30AM and my father turned the radio dial to an AM station. He would do this often, but this time, the voice that emanated from the speakers was like none that I’d ever heard. It was distinct, different, and very hard to ignore. I couldn't sleep during that drive because I was hanging on every word. Though the details and theological depth of the message were way over my head, the preacher’s name stayed with me...Ravi Zacharias.
Ravi Zacharias was an itinerant preacher and an apologist. He spent a majority of his time in ministry traveling the world to defend the gospel with grace and humility, which seems to be a lost art today. Zacharias lived 1st Peter 3:15 which states, “...always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Very few apologists lived this scripture with such adherence as Zacharias. One of the most astounding facts about his life was that at the age of 17, he attemped suicide as an escape from a “meaningless life”.
In his book Jesus Among Other Gods, he explains, “I grew up with walls of quiet desperation gradually building within me that moved me moment by moment to a point of personal crisis.”
It’s almost unbelievable that a person who would go on to preach about the certainty of a real Christ to an audience of millions once felt this way. Zacharias explains that as he lay in a bed of suicide, the bible was brought to him opened to John 14:19 which states, “Because I live, you shall live also.” According to Zacharias, it was at that moment that grace was extended to him and the work began.
Often times, we reminisce on the life of renowned men of God and we make the mistake of putting the responsibilities of biblical mandates and callings solely at their feet. We deflect the hard and challenging teachings to them. An honest analysis though of 1st Peter 3:15 makes it clear that the edict to be prepared to make a defense of our faith was not only for the preacher, it was for every professing believer. Are we prepared to defend our faith? If not, why?
Ravi Zacharias died on May 19th, 2020 after a short battle with cancer. A man who once considered his life meaningless left an indelible mark on those who heard him speak. When we consider his life, it’s important to note that his ministry began not from gritty self determination and haughtiness, but a complete dependence on the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is this kind of dependence that will not only afford us the ability to defend our faith with gentleness and respect, it will ultimately give us what we’re all truly searching for...meaning.