But these things weren’t the best of Ravi. Whenever he spoke to crowds around the world, he packed venues. Not because of his intellect but because of his humility. He met with presidents, foreign leaders, statesmen from the Middle East and India, students at Harvard, USC, and other prestigious universities who forbade other religious leaders from stepping foot onto their campuses. He gained an audience with them because they saw that Ravi never did what ardent religious people rarely (if ever) do: he loved the questioner more than the question. He came to ask what their needs were and gave answers they never thought of.
One year he came to the University of Michigan and was met with standing room only. A Christian apologist filled with students seeking the meaning of life. They turned to Ravi, whom they knew would care enough about them to give exhaustive, truthful, and loving answers. At a time when our political, religious, social, racial, and gender remain divided, Ravi never cared about that. He spoke at Hindu gatherings, Yale, the UN, with Muslim leaders and the poorest children and parents in Africa and many other countries. He traveled so extensively that I’m sure his family lost count of how many places he had been. Ravi debated with atheists like Richard Dawkins and found friendship with some of the keenest physics professors and scientists on the globe.
Watching Ravi speak is a lesson in how we all should speak to one another. Regardless of a listener’s beliefs, he brought people together. Not because he convinced them to follow his faith, but because he revered his listeners over himself. This is an art we rarely if ever see.
One of the greatest lessons we must learn from Ravi was how to stop blundering people who share different beliefs. To stop convincing them that our perspectives and beliefs are better than theirs. We have cut our religions into “Us” and “Them” camps. I have done this. There are the saved and unsaved; righteous and unrighteous, racist and non-racist; loving or cruel.
Ravi brought many people to believe in Christ by laying out intellectual apologetics. He also knew a deep secret we all must learn and practice. That is to change the words we use; our belief that those who hold different views from us are not poorly educated or blind. They are smart, thoughtful people who care deeply about their faith that we, like Ravi, must all respect. We must see how precious their beliefs are to them. Most importantly, we must crush our habit of verbally assaulting others who disagree with us. Believing that this is the sure way to make them better.
Ravi paved the way to love, listen, understand, and respect others. His intellectual fortitude and unfailing humility were a light that will be greatly missed.
If you’ve never followed Ravi Zacharias, you can find his ministry and his teachings at https://www.rzim.org/.