- Rev Jackson Wan
Reflection and Response to the Report on Ravi Zacharias
It is heart-breaking that we received investigation reports which confirmed the late Ravi Zacharias of his sexual misconduct and abuse. As the international Christian community comes to terms with the evidence of sexual sins committed by the well-known Christian leader, we must reflect upon learning points from this case and to give an appropriate response as part of the Christian community of believers.
Sin Has Been Committed
With the evidence and confirmation presented from the investigation report released on 12 February 2021, there is no denial of the sin committed. In the past, Zacharias had denied the accusations. But evidence have now proven the credibility of the accusations. The Christian community has to accept the truth that misconduct had taken place, and should not deny or dismiss the wrongdoings committed.
God Hates Sin
The Bible tells us that God does not tolerate sin. Proverbs 6.16-19 and Colossians 3.5-6 are two of many verses in the Bible which tells us that. Colossians 3.6 warns us -
6 On account of these [sins] the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3.6)
In this regard, I am reminded that I must first be careful to examine my own life. 1 John 1.8 is a common confession spoken in church services, reminding us to examine ourselves. Our Lord Jesus Himself taught us in Matthew 7.3 to notice the log in our own eye first before we point our fingers to others.
I too struggle with sin. Perhaps the sins I struggle with daily are not as visible or damaging to the ones Zacharias struggled with, but they are sins, nonetheless. The Apostle Paul placed sins of several “weightage” together in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6.9-10). So a sin is a sin, and the unrighteous sinner will not inherit the kingdom of God. As I look with disappointment at the news of the investigations, I am reminded to check upon my life also.
God Forgives, But We Have to Bear the Consequences
A person from the Bible that quickly comes to mind is King David. God favoured David and had a covenant with him (2 Samuel 7). However, David committed sexual sin and conspired to murder. It displeased God and the prophet Nathan confronted David. David eventually repented. He was forgiven, but had to bear the consequences of what he had done – the child born out of his sexual affair would not survive (2 Samuel 11.13-14).
David had to face the consequences of his sin and disobedience. An example in today’s context may be – if I commit an act of vandalism and later seek forgiveness for it, I have to bear the consequence of the irrevocable destruction of property by my misdeed. I may still have to go to jail or be fined despite my repentance. Or if I said a word of insult to someone and later apologised for it, I have to bear the consequence of the hurt and emotional damage already caused to the victim of my folly.
Need for Repentance
Does that mean that I should not seek repentance, since I have to bear the consequences anyway? No, for in seeking repentance, we seek God’s forgiveness and His restoration to Himself by His grace. We also offer reparation to the wronged. In the case of King David, God forgave and restored him, and we know through Scripture that David was still considered as the man after God’s own heart; and from David’s lineage came Jesus Himself (Acts 13.22-23). David repented, faced his consequences and was restored, God’s word tells us.
So there is a need for repentance. Did Zacharias repent? I do not know. I wished he did while he was alive, and we would mourn with him. But because repentance had not surfaced when he was alive, and there were no reports of restitutions, we do not have the answer for now. Only God knows. And He will be the judge of that (Revelation 20.12-13). Zacharias is no longer with us. He would have to answer for the misdeeds, if he were, and would have to bear consequences. For now, one thing is certain - He faces the righteous judge (Psalm 98:9).
What Then Can We Do?
How should we move from here? A few points come to mind.
First, we must pray. Pray for the hurting. They include the abused, the exploited, those who have been deceived and supporters who feel betrayed. Pray for those who have been bullied and cancelled from within and outside the RZIM organization. Pray for repentance — for those who were knowledgeable and accountable; and those who idolized man over the divine. Pray for the furtherance of the gospel despite human scandals.
Second, let us examine ourselves in repentance. A sin is sin. No sin is too small. Especially in this season of Lent, may we learn to reflect upon our lives and to repent where there is sin. May we learn to face the Holy Spirit of God each day with honesty and integrity in all that we do.
Thirdly, let us establish a culture of accountability and confession. James 5.16 exhorts us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. When was the last time you made a confession to a fellow believer? This is a spiritual discipline sorely missed in the Evangelical Church. May we find a brother or sister whom we can confess our sins to, so that we will find accountability, consolation in repentance, and God-fearing advice. May we develop a system on checking on our church leaders out of care and love as they serve and lead us in ministry. May we congeal a practice to sound out points of concern such as misconduct or abuse in church or personal lives. May we pray for our church leaders to be humble and upright servants of Christ.
Reflections from AMKPC Leaders
The leaders of AMKPC, whom are the members of Elders-Deacons-Court (EDC), met to share their reflections and learnings. Many of the reflections mentioned above include those shared by the leadership.
The leadership also identified that we are all sinners and liable to fall. We should therefore watch ourselves in examination and repentance of our lives. We see the measure of success in Christian ministry not by the size of the church or ministry, but by the purity of a humble heart in Christ. We acknowledge that we should not look to men and women as the spiritual giants of our lives; but to look to Jesus, who is faithful, perfect and Lord of our lives. We hope to learn to be open to one another in accountability and prayer.
May God lead us, the Lord Jesus guide us, and the Holy Spirit convict us in this short span of our journey here on earth. God bless.