I wouldn’t claim to have been a good follower of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry. I’ve only come across some of his apologetics on Youtube and I dare not deny that they blessed me. Ravi Zacharias has been in the apologetic ministry for more than 40 years, making him one of the icons of doctrinal defence the Christendom has ever produced.
As great as his attainments appear, Ravi’s ministry on earth came to an end with serious question marks, his departure from earth which was supposed to be seen as glorious became a trigger for his secrets to be made bare. The reputation of the ministry he left behind has been dragged to the mud.
The case of Ravi Zacharias and serial unrepentant abuses trailing his ministry as investigations have revealed and confirmed by Miller & Martin, the law firm hired by RZIM to look into these allegations, shows yet again that the best of man is still a man.
Let me say this, however.
Sexual abuse is not weakness, it is wickedness. Sexual abusers are not people merely displaying their weaknesses, they are people who have been conditioned intentionally or unintentionally to be wicked! We may not say so for consensual sex but for rape, sexual abuse and so on.
I’ve said before and I say yet again, don’t follow any man into error. Follow men only to the extent they allow God to lead them and when they are leading themselves, withdraw. Paul said, “imitate me as I imitate Christ…”
Paul wrote to his protege, Timothy, saying
“So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.” 1 Timothy 3:2 NLT
The words used by Paul here are very strong. He used the word “must”, which means that a man who lacks these qualities and is unwilling to be trained into them has no business leading any ministry. Paul writes a similar message to Titus saying
“An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.” Titus 1:6-8 NLT
This means that when we don’t know Christ, we can hardly follow men correctly. So, when we say you should know God’s word and have a personal relationship with God where no other person aside from God has a say, we are not asking you to withdraw from the community of believers, we are not asking you to disengage from Pastoral oversight, we are only saying “as a Child of God, there is a place of intimacy with God where it is just you and God alone…”
The reason why some folks suddenly lose hope in the Church because of a scandal is that their trust was in a man and not God. So, when these men betray their trust, there is nothing left to hold on to.
For the records, this is not me saying that I’ve got all my actions together. No, I’ve got issues too, I am a work in progress but you see abuse, rape and the likes? I condemn it! How about when we do this with God’s name? It’s an abomination!
And yes, God doesn’t use perfect people but God expects us to tame our flesh and be good ambassadors of the kingdom. The more we try to hide these things in the name of solidarity, we keep hurting people, we keep appearing hypocritical and we keep chasing people away from the Church.
People want to belong where they can be safe and not where they will be exploited. People want to be where they will be protected, not where they are abused and it is swept under the carpet.
This is a warning to the Church! We cry every day for revival, we pray every day for souls but sometimes, our inability to hold elders accountable is what destroys what we hope to build!
We live in a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold anyone accountable, when you are called a rebel for wanting the elders to be accountable and that’s why we may be far from solving this big problem.
This is a warning to the Church! There are many Ravi Zacharias out there, people who are full of knowledge, people who have been empowered by God for his purpose but same people who have been programmed by an ungodly system smuggled into the Church to carry out dark agendas that will only end up bringing the Church to ridicule.
If God could use Ravi despite all his flaws, then God can use anybody. This is why we must keep our eyes on Jesus and not on men, this is why we must have absolute trust in the Holy Spirit who gave gifts to men and not the men who were given gifts. King David had flaws too but God used him greatly.
While this hurts us so badly, maybe, it’s a pointer that we have trusted so much in the flesh, it’s time to loosen every trust we have in the flesh. It’s also time to deal with our arrogance and pride. We must begin to own up to these mess, we must admit it is amongst us before we can begin dealing with it. The more we let it thrive, the more we keep quiet and sweep it under the carpet, the more we hurt believers who are yet to grow.