It was heartbreaking to hear the news of Ravi Zacharias’ sexual abuse. Ravi had risen to become the most recognized Christian apologist and evangelist in the last decade. His messages were powerful, yet he balanced it with a gracious and humble manner that set the standard for Christian apologists. I have been asked by many friends and students, my thoughts on the recent news of Ravi’s misconduct. Many are having difficulty processing the whole situation. When Christian leaders fall it affects many in the Christian community. I have seen dozens of leaders including several personal friends and mentors fail morally. Here are several principles that we can learn and that will help us process and move forward.
First, we cannot let a sinner’s failure dismantle our faith in Christ. A leader’s failure can discourage us but that does not equate to God failing. The fact is sinners do sin. The list in the Bible is extensive: Noah, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Peter. We are hurt and feel betrayed at a leader’s sin, but our faith in Christ should not be shattered by the failure of the sinner. Although men will fail, God never does. Our faith is foremost in Christ. We may be surprised when people fail but not shocked and it should not destroy our faith. In fact, times like these remind us to bring our focus back on Christ as we are reminded of His might and our frailty.
Second, truth transcends the transgressor. Truth is true no matter who says it. Our college was debating whether we should keep Ravi’s books or throw them out. God uses sinners, wicked rulers, pagans, and even a donkey to communicate truth. Although it is difficult to separate the message from the messenger, we can still learn and embrace the truth presented by a leader while objecting to wrong ideas they may have in other areas and in some cases, wrong lifestyle. Truth transcends the transgressor.
Third, God’s grace is greater than sin. We sing that famous hymn, “Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin….” I condemn Ravi’s actions and initially I responded in anger, but as I took time to reflect, I realize that it could be me in the headlines or anyone of us. We are all sinful beings capable of falling and it is only the grace of God that has sustained me. I am grateful for the grace extended to me and would hope we can demonstrate God’s grace to Ravi’s family, ministry and victims who need it most. God’s grace overcomes sin, let us see the reality of this truth lived out in this situation.
Finally, we need to forgive even the unforgivable. I know how difficult it is when the perpetrator does not repent. Ravi never repented of his crime and this makes it tremendously difficult to forgive. We have all been wounded by an unrepentant transgressor. I have come to learn that forgiveness is for our sake. It restores our fellowship with God and revives our health. God promises to repay so we can forgive, leave the sin behind and let God deal with the transgressor (Rom. 12:19). God is just and He may not deal with the offender as we would, but He certainly will have His day in the end.
Paul’s goal was to run the race God set before him and to finish well (2 Tim. 4:7). May this be the prayer and desire for each one of us. I ask you continue to pray for your Christian leaders and I hope I and the Evidence and Answers team will be on your list. I pray that we will serve with integrity and grace as we fulfill the mission Christ has laid before us.
For Christ and His Kingdom,