"Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." – 1 Peter 5:8
Last week I wrote about the various revelations that are coming out about the now deceased Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias. The bottom line of these revelations is that it would appear that Ravi was not the straight arrow that we all thought him to be. There was a dark side to Ravi's life – a side filled with lust, adultery and deceit. In that way, as noted last Sunday, Ravi is hardly – we are sad to say – unique.
For the past number of weeks I have, in my daily devotional time, been in the book of Psalms. As you likely know, a great number of the Psalms – about half – were written by David. David has, to me, always been a bit of an enigma. On the one hand we have this truly heroic, godly man who is "a man after God's own heart." As that kind of man, David again and again, in the Psalms, speaks of his own purity, integrity and trust in the LORD (e.g., Psalm 17:3; 18:23; 26:1; 40:8; 56:4,11; 86:2; 101:2). And yet we all know "the rest of the story": of his adultery with Bathsheba, plot to see Bathsheba's husband dead, and deceit regarding the whole affair. Psalms 32 and 51 reveal a contrite man who is now confessing his sin openly before God and man. And so we are left with this conflicted view of David: on the one hand numbering him among God's greatest of servants while on the other hand being candid about his moral failures.
This is the situation that we have with Ravi Zacharias.
Recently there had been an effort made to have a statue of Robert E. Lee removed from out nation's capital building. As of December 21, the statue has been removed. Robert E. Lee was not only an outstanding military leader (Lincoln desired to have him be head of the Union army) but also a true patriot and devout Christian man. He was, however, as we all know, on the wrong side of the issue of slavery and ultimately on the wrong side of history. But now, like Washington or Jefferson or even Abraham Lincoln, his legacy is being trashed because of his erroneous ways. Up until very recently Lee would have been viewed as a man with a tarnished legacy. Now his legacy is trashed.
They are calling this kind of activity "cancel culture." On the basis of cancel culture, we would do well to remove from our Bibles the stories about David, the many references to him, and most certainly the Psalms written by him. The problem with "cancel culture" is, however, that it is rooted in a hypocrisy that is beyond understanding. For there are no PERFECT men or women (save that One who died for us). "All have sinned and fall short (not fell short, but fall short, even now) of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The irony is that the very ones who would rid the Bible of a David, or U.S. history of a Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln or Lee, may themselves be involved in the grossest of moral failures. They may be adulterers, but then they will condemn Jefferson for his slave ownership; or they may be tax frauds, but then condemn Lee for standing with Virginia against the northern aggressors.
So back to Ravi, and that long list of other preachers, pastors, missionaries and televangelists whose lives came to be characterized by lust and deceit… What are we to make of them?
At the time of Richard Nixon's death, Billy Graham conducted his funeral. Graham had had a close relationship with Nixon and so it was natural that Graham should have conducted Nixon's funeral. At the funeral Billy Graham said something like, "It is difficult to measure the true height of a tree until it has been felled." What he meant by that was that it was only after Nixon's death that historians would be able to give an accurate assessment of Nixon's life. In one area we all learned of his failure. In his case, one lie led to another to another to another. And eventually Nixon got caught in those lies. But it was Nixon who opened up talks with China, and it was Nixon who brought our troops back from Vietnam, and it was Nixon who established "détente" with Russia – a clear shift from where things had been during the Kennedy administration. In like manner, I believe we need to try and view people's lives as a whole
. • Albert Einstein was unfaithful to his wife, but that doesn't change our take on his insights into the universe.
• Johannes Brahms was in love with Robert Schumann's wife, but it doesn't take away from Brahms' genius at musical composition.
• George Whitefield made use of a slave to help with his orphanage in Georgia, but Whitefield will forever be considered the kingpin in the Great Awakening of people coming to Jesus
On and on. Ravi Zacharias' speeches, debates and books will forever stand as great examples of how God's truth stands above the foolishness of unbelief.
So while the Day of Judgment may go hard for Ravi, on that great day, because of Ravi's Savior, he will be deemed "guiltless." Amazing Grace.