An open letter to Christians impacted by the Ravi Zacharias scandal;
Once RZIM released their statement last week, regarding the now confirmed allegations of Ravi Zacharias, I've felt a need to process...
Writing always helps.
Bay and I got to know Ravi, having served at the same family camp, over several different summers. He was kind, gracious, brilliant, and humble. The man we met, and, with whom we shared meals, in no way matched the predator the investigation unraveled.
My first response was anger; but, anger born of grief:
✔ Grief for his victims (plural) and, not once, but ongoing, over many years, in many countries.
✔ Grief for his family. Not only had they lost a beloved husband and father to cancer, but they continue to lose him as the scandal and social-media-buzz drops daily devastating bombshells...
✔ ...for RZIM, the ministry he founded. While I applaud the way they handled the process, the vulnerability and the bravery to be upfront and forthwith, this uncovering ravages their credibility.
I pray for all.
✔ More than all of this, the grief I'm experiencing comes as I read, and hear, others weigh in (from inside the sheepfold and those out) saying, "Well, so there goes that Jesus, again..."
As if He's the one to blame and at whom we point the finger...
And, because (sadly) this kind of scandal is far too common, the witness of Jesus is destroyed by His ambassadors, and the glory of God is tarnished, unable to shine as brightly in this dark world.
Already, many, more profound and proficient, have weighed in on this disgrace; so, why me?
What do I have to add?
Probably not much...again, I'm simply finding a way to file away in my mental cabinet drawers a way to put closure to my wandering thoughts.
In the midst of my mental meandering over this dilemma, I turned to Galatians, where I've begun a dig-deep-study to mine the Apostle Paul's spiritual treasures.
This morning I picked up in Chapter 2.
Background: Paul is sharing his story with the Galatians, and like any good attorney, he's laying out his credibility and setting up his case before this church body. He's told them that following his radical salvation, he went up to Arabia, instead of going to Jerusalem, where he could meet in person with the very apostles who walked and lived with Jesus. Who better to disciple Paul? But, no, instead he went into the desert for several years, where he met with the RISEN LORD, who accomplished that job. Then, he went to Jerusalem to discuss the mission set before him (to take the gospel to the Gentiles)...
Four times in 9 verses, Paul tells the Galatians that he met with those who "seemed to be" influential (meaning Jesus' disciples).
I thought it odd that Paul used those three little words "seemed to be" in reference to these men. Of course, they were the influential ones - "they had been with Jesus."
It becomes clear why he's vague beginning in verse 10.
Peter comes to visit Paul, to see his work first hand.
Peter, one who "seemed to be" influential in the early church; but a different Peter. Here sits a hypocritical Peter, a man who should be "walking in step with the truth of the gospel." A man leading other sheep astray by his play-acting. A man who sought the pat-on-the-back of people more than pleasing Christ.
And, Paul opposes him to his face.
Here's the point:
Not all of us are "who we seem to be" on the surface.
Peter resides inside of each us from time-to-time.
We are all sinners, everyone, missing the mark of a life that imitates our Savior and Lord, Jesus.
There, as a Peter, as a Ravi, as the multitude of leaders who've gone before and fallen prey to temptation, go I, but for the grace of God.
We can not, must not, should not point fingers...
There is NO PLACE for self-righteousness (check the attitude)...
Daily, there must be a look into our own hearts.
We are all created to bring glory to the ONE who died to save us, and frequently fall short.
All saved-souls are to live by faith and walk in step with the Spirit of the Lord who dwells within us; surrender moment-by-moment of every(!) single(!) day(!); take up our cross and follow Jesus.
As Paul tells the Galatians,
"You were called to freedom...Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. And I say, walk by the Spirit who dwells inside of you, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit..."
(Gal. 5:13, 16, 17a)
We, you and I, are not FORCED TO LIVE IN BONDAGE TO OUR SIN NATURE!
Yet, again, as surely as morning follows the night, I'll surrender to the bondage of my sin that "so easily besets..."
The battle is not easy; it's an all-out-war!
No amount of knowledge (think Ravi) makes that war easier.
Knowledge, we know, puffs up; and instead of saying, "I can't" and surrendering to the one who can-in-me, I'll yield to my sin instead.
This is important for the sheep-gone-missing to see in me; and, to see in you...
It is important for them to see it in their earthly shepherds!
We need to declare this from the rooftops for all to understand:
MY SIN IS NOT JESUS!
Ravi's sin was not Jesus!
Peter's sin was not Jesus!
In those times, we may belong to Jesus, but Jesus (His sweet Spirit) is not dwelling in fulness in us!
Here's where the GREATEST TWO WORDS OF SCRIPTURE come into play:
He died to take away our sin...
To bury it in the deepest waters...
And, not just take it away, give us victory over it...
To replace it with Resurrection POWER.
Power to help us walk away from sin!
We've got to stop scuba diving to pick it back up again, and let the Spirit of Jesus live through these earthly bodies.
Then Jesus will be Jesus in us.
AND, His glory will not be tarnished!
Today is the first day of Lent.
It's a perfect season, over the next 40 days, to take an internal investigation.
In this season, may we commit to seek the Lord, to ask Him to reveal the ugly in our hearts, then, mourn our sin that led to His death, and celebrate the difference He died to make.
It's a season to expel Peter from our hearts (even Ravi!)...and open ourselves up to abiding in Jesus once more...
It will make Easter Sunday more meaningful; more precious; more influential in changing us from the inside out.
We've got 40 days to look deep.