Ep 166: Why think? A tribute to Ravi Zacharias
Thinking about life's biggest questions was the heart and passion of the late Ravi Zacharias who passed away just last month. As a tribute to Ravi, we explore how to find meaning and hope in a difficult world.
Our guest: Michael Ramsden is President of RZIM an organisation founded by the late Ravi Zacharias to engage thinkers with the big questions of life. Michael has been engaging with people of all backgrounds and cultures about questions of faith for over twenty years and has been invited to lecture in various settings including the White House, in Washington DC, and NATO HQ in Brussels.
Check out the whole memorial service to Ravi Zacharias.
Check out the video from our Monday night Facebook Premiere (you can still access the video after the Premiere).
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
So, Michael, you have a passion to engage the big questions of life in all sorts of spaces - so you’re in many ways the ideal guest for bigger questions - but being invited to speak in places like the White House and NATO - they are impressive spaces to speak - how do you approach an invitation like that?
Life and Passing of Ravi
Now Michael, you work as President of RZIM, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, founded by the late Ravi Zacharias, and today’s show is a tribute to Ravi Zacharias who died of cancer on May 19 at the age of 74. Ravi devoted his life to asking the big questions of life. So Michael, how are you feeling after the recent passing of Ravi?
It must be a challenging season for you?
So tell us about Ravi, how did you first encounter him and his work?
Do you remember the first time you met him?
How do you now feel now being the President of an organisation which bears his name?
Thinking: What drove him?
Ravi loved thinking and asking questions - indeed the tagline of RZIM is “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.” Why was thinking at the heart of what drove Ravi?
But isn’t thinking contrary to the Christian message. American atheist author Ernest Hemmingway once said, “All thinking men are atheists.” So isn’t thinking dangerous for a Christian believer?
In the Gospel of John, which is one for the four biographies of Jesus we have, Jesus himself makes a profound statement, which was deeply significant for him, Jesus says in John 14:19,
“because I live, you also will live.”
Why was this verse so important for Ravi?
Final days and hope to come
Now in Ravi’s last days, when it became clear his condition was terminal, he shared a number of Bible verses and a hymn on Twitter. I suppose maybe it’s a sign of modern life that a perhaps a way to remember someone these days, is to recall their famous last tweet. On 15th May 2020, four days before his death Ravi tweeted from the Bible, from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Is it surprising for a man who devoted so much of his life to thinking, that his final reflections are more on fixing eyes on what is unseen? It is more of an experience and of hope than of intellectual reflection and insight?
Ravi also quoted a hymn from Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
"O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
And our eternal home."
They speak a lot about hope. How did hope impact the way Ravi led his final days?
You also got to spend time with him in his last days - how was that experience?
The Big Question
Now Michael, what do you think Ravi would say to today’s big question - why think?