In death, Ravi Zacharias bears his deserved shame. What that means only the Judge of all the earth knows and He will do right (Genesis 18:25). But let every church and congregation take heed unless He who holds the seven stars in His hand should remove the lampstand from its place.
Evangelicalism received crushing confirmation last week that allegations against Ravi Zacharias have proven true. Ravi, who died in May, was a world-renowned apologist for Christianity. But his outward influence and popularity disguised a deep wickedness. Graphic as it is, it needs to be said. In his death Ravi has been accused by several women who gave him massage therapies in spas he owned of non-consensual touch, public masturbation, sexual advances, and requests for explicit photos. The international ministry that bears his name recently reported: “Sadly, the interim investigation update indicates this assessment of Ravi’s behavior to be true — that he did engage in sexual misconduct.”
Maybe it’s easy for the living to point the finger at the dead. But let’s not make it too easy. Sadly, every situation and circumstance like this is, I believe, a parable for the church. Heinous as this revelation is it’s a tired and worn truth. Tragically, but perhaps not undeservedly, to the listening world the word “church” has, at times, become almost synonymous with sexual abuse, trauma, cover up, and grooming. Such crimes are widespread from Roman Catholicism to confessional Presbyterianism. In other words, the sinful failings of an individual man reflect the sinful failings of many churches.
Of course, every parable has a lesson. Jesus didn’t speak the parables of his earthly ministry simply as some attention grabbing illustrations, but he used them to bring people into direct confrontation with the word of God. We too should be quick to bring the eternal Truth to every exposed fact, to every discovered sin, and to every victim’s tragedy. In other words, when these things become known we need to bring ourselves face-to-face with God himself. So, what is the parabolic instruction?
First, we need to learn that the light matters. A basic biblical truth is that “God is light” (1 John 1:5). Jesus came as the “light of men” (John 1:4), and the Holy Spirit burns as the “seven torches of fire” (Revelation 4:5). As such we are “children of the light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5) because we “have the light of life” (John 8:12). It’s a rich metaphor. Part of what it means to be in and of the light is that we have nothing to do with the darkness. The church isn’t a place for secrecy, cover-up, concealment, or whispers in backrooms. Rather, difficult and painful as it can be part of our glory is to drag the things of darkness into the light: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).