God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7
Unless you have been living in a cave, you probably know that another high-profile Christian leader has fallen – spectacularly! I confess that this blog post has been rumbling and festering within my spirit for some time, but I have not been able to find the words to express my pain or make any sense of it. Ravi Zacharias was loved, trusted, and followed by millions worldwide. Sadly, we now know that he violated that love and trust in ways that are too heinous to mention here.
What are we to make of the Ravi Zacharias scandal? Why has another renowned Christian icon given the world reason to bring reproach to the name of Christ? Is there anything positive in any of this, anything to be learned? Before I continue, I want you to know that I have gotten the shocking details of this scandal from the RZIM website. The ministry hired Miller and Martin law firm to conduct an extensive investigation into the failings of Zacharias and the coverup of his decades-long pattern of sexual abuse and even rape. None of this is second-hand information.
If you want to peruse the sordid details, you may visit the RZIM.org ministry site. I will spare you that nightmare for now. Instead, I would like to scrape together any possible lessons we might extrapolate or infer from this scenario. I will admit that I am doing this for myself and anyone who might be working through this.
No one escapes God's judgment – We cannot know what, if anything, transpired between Zacharias and God before his death last May. But we know that everyone must stand before God and be judged for deeds done in this life. (Rom. 2:6)
He fit the profile – Not only was he the founder of his eponymous ministry, but he was also its image-bearer, its leader, and its figurehead. He had power and financial resources through the ministry, and the people around him were reluctant to hold him accountable. When the first disturbing accounts of impropriety surfaced, those in the ministry believed his denials.
The digital factor – Collin Hansen has written that "Sex is increasingly disembodied with the ubiquity of porn." Indeed, sexual sin has been around from the beginning (read Genesis 38). Still, it is difficult to imagine the totality of Ravi's sex crimes without the availability of smartphones and burner phones for the sharing and receiving of sexual images.
"Son" light is the best disinfectant – Some well-meaning believers have tried to come to terms with this latest revelation by comparing Zacharias' actions to those of King David. That is an analogy that falls short. Why do I say that? Because God sent Nathan to boldly confront David, who then repented (while still alive) and was forgiven but dealt with the consequences of that sin for the rest of his life. We have no such ending to the Zacharias story. The bottom line: repent while you still draw breath.
As I try to summarize this painful post, I am aware that Ravi Zacharias is not the first evangelical leader to be exposed for sexual sin, nor will he be the last. A quick Internet search of the term "pastor accused of sexual misconduct" yields over 4 million hits. But it also reminds me that this is the very reason we began the unDEFILED project nearly three years ago and why we persist despite the many obstacles the enemy has thrown before us to bring it to completion. Walk in the Light. It's the best disinfectant.
1 John 1:9