“In your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
Language is always evolving. The word “awful” at one time meant the very same as awesome. (Think of the hymn “How Sweet and Awful is the Place”.) “Naughty” once meant that you were poor, or you had naught (nothing). When you and I think of the word “apology” we immediately think of “an act of saying you are sorry for something wrong you have done” as the Cambridge Dictionary defines it. But a lesser known meaning of the word is “a formal explanation or defence of a belief or system”. It is in that sense, that the word translated “defence” in the verse above, could also be translated apology.
Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias was born on March 26, 1946, in Madras, India. By seventeen years of life, Ravi, as he would come to be known, despaired of life and ended up on a bed of suicide induced by swallowing poison. While he was still in the hospital, a local Christian worker brought him a Bible, and his mother read to him from John 14. Verse 19 stuck in the mind of Ravi Zacharias – “Because I live, you also will live.” He prayed to God, “Please get me out of this hospital bed well, and I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.” In 1966, Ravi immigrated with his family to Toronto, earning his undergraduate degree from Ontario Bible College.
Ravi Zacharias went on to become one of the great apologists of our time. He spoke and preached in more than 70 countries, wrote 30 books, and addressed university students in venues the world over. But perhaps the characteristic that most defined his ministry was the gentleness and respect with which he defended the truth. Ravi did not love to argue – Ravi loved Jesus, and he loved people. He was not out to win a debate – his mission was to connect humanity, from every walk of life, with the Way, the Truth and the Life!
This past Tuesday, May 19, Ravi Zacharias was called home to be with his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the One who saved Ravi’s life, the One who gave his life purpose and meaning, the One who loved Ravi exceedingly, and I am convinced that Ravi was welcomed home with the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” He now experiences to a far richer and greater degree, the wondrous meaning of the words “Because I live, you also will live!”