Audio version read by me: forgiveness-in-failure-1.mp3
You may feel inundated by responses to yet another cataclysmic moral failure in the Christian world. Yet because of my last post I feel compelled to address the sad news about Ravi Zacharias. He was renowned, admired, heeded, gifted, and, unfortunately, wicked. The same ugly sin destroyed our church, but from what I have read Ravi’s was more extensive, calculated, and extortionist. My heart goes out to the family as well as to those unsuspecting souls who gave their lives to his ministry. To learn that you have unwittingly propped up such a monster is devastating. I understand that kind of betrayal and the deep doubts and wounds it leaves. Having personally experienced the aftershock of being exploited by someone to whom you entrusted your time, talent and loyalty, I am grieved for those people who advanced the ministry of someone they perceived to be a servant of God. He was a brilliant man, which demonstrates emphatically that it is not the mind that must dominate our relationship with the Lord, but the heart. Knowing the truth in no way assures you are living it, and the intellect invites trusting its cleverness as money invites security. Some have concluded that he was never saved, but I leave that with the Lord. Saved people sin. Repentance is a gift, that left unopened, gives sin the power to cheat us – and those around us. My response was to throw away his few books and tapes I had purchased because ‘fraud’ shouts from their pages so loudly than the correct doctrine becomes a whisper. Each person must be persuaded in their own heart as to how to respond.
The tragedy to me is the collateral damage. My husband, as I shared last blog, was destroyed by the false allegations that he knew about sexual misconduct and ignored it. What I did not share was his example in the aftermath. It was honorable. Although George’s sin took him by surprise, he took responsibility for legitimizing an atmosphere that gave power to such a man. He repented of the pride and condescension that the ministry had spawned, although unintentional and imperceptible at first but unmistakable at the last. He spoke personally to every person he could who had been offended or hurt by the church. The weight of knowing he had been part of a system that empowered such an unscrupulous leader was crushing. But there were many who had been irretrievably stumbled in their relationship with God and the church. If you have not experienced this kind of treachery by a person to whom you entrusted your soul, be slow to remind the victim that God is still good though His servants are flawed. Of course that is true, but that soul has new wounds to deal with and the enemy preys on the doubts that naturally arise. This is probably even more devastating when a man with gift and influence like Ravi is exposed as such a profoundly heinous hypocrite. Secret sin exposed is like a the explosion of a dye pack after a robbery. The splatter is far reaching.
For those who have decided that Christianity is a sham religion this is yet another proof of its weakness. Admittedly, the church is often a poor representation of the heart of God, but I have come to realize that the fact that it is so flawed and yet entrusted by God to be His earthly ambassador during this point in history demonstrates His unbelievably gracious nature. For those who are rocked in their faith, remember that Jesus predicted such events, and this is no time to abandon your prayer life and Scripture reading. Draw near to God and He promises to draw near to you. For those involved in that or a similar ministry, my heart aches. But allow God to use it for good. Give the devil no foothold. Accept responsibility where the Lord convicts. And move on!!! Remember your Lord was betrayed by the kiss of a friend, He knows best how to heal the wounded soul. We must guard our hearts in this kind of situation, above all else from bitterness, which can poison many others. Don’t let Ravi’s sin become the gateway to your sin, which would only compound the loss for yourself and your brethren. It is no accident that the core of Jesus’ radical teaching is forgiveness – His for us, then ours for others.
Christianity is not a failure if there is not perfection, but rather if there is not forgiveness. Jesus warned that offenses would indeed come, but also ‘woed’ those who brought them. As others inevitably fall to the wayside we must unwaveringly fix our eyes upon Jesus, and for the joy set before us endure the shame, as He did, to pursue the heavenward call.
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands…
When men elevate men to positions of unbridled wealth and power, the end result will always be idolatry; lovers of self. This rise and fall comes at the expense of vulnerable sheep. Our hearts ache for these ones but God knows how to care for them in ways we don’t know.
When it looks like the Christian world is collapsing, God still has an innumerable remnant that has not bowed the knee to Baal.
Great post Cheryl!