This treasure in earthen vessels: Where did I go wrong?

Patrick Tumusiime
4 min readJul 25, 2021
Credit: Pixabay

“but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” ~ 1 Peter 3:15.

This is by far the most commonly used scripture used in the Christian apologetics( the intellectual defense of the truth of the Christian religion, usually considered a branch of theology) world and anyone that has had an opportunity to listen or watch them(Apologists) do their thing cannot help but admire their work.

This was especially fronted by Ravi Zacharias who has since gone to be with the Lord(Christianize for died), I was personally awed by how articulate he was in defending the Christian faith together with the entire RZIM staff. I still wonder what it is that was special about this group of people that seemed to have answers to all the questions.

My curiosity having been aroused, dared me to venture into a non academic quest for knowledge into the world of Christian apologetics. It started from RZIM so I naturally followed most of the content online and some of the books that had been written by Ravi. For over 2 years I followed closely and tried to get to some of the answers that I’d had about my faith for a long time — I did get some answers while for some I did not.

Last year, a couple of months after Ravi’s passing news broke of his involvements in sexual abuse during his time at RZIM and that for me hit hard because I had held him in high regard, so much so that blinded me to the fact that he like the rest of us was an ‘earthen vessel’ that lived and breathed the same air. Part of me wished (and prayed) that this was just a conspiracy that would pass away as quickly as it came but Noo! It got much bigger, the internet was awash with all sorts of callouts and condemnation of Ravi’s behavior.

While it is tempting to discuss the merits and demerits of the overall reaction to the events that followed this unfortunate discovery, my goal in this post is rather to address my own reaction and by extension the extent to which much of the Christian community has elevated some personalities in the faith to so high a level that they inadvertently esteem them way beyond the standard that God has set for us — for some, these personalities have been placed in the roles of ‘gods’.

Why was I disturbed by the events that unfolded after Ravi’s death? Why did it cause so much uproar in the Christian community? — These are the questions that I had mulled over for a while, and I can only come to a very simple answer traced back to the good old book of Exodus 20:3. Did I at some point place Ravi in the same position as God? Obviously not or so I thought. A further examination of the facts indicates that I was ‘hurt’ by what happened. I was even more hurt by the reaction of the Christian community because they jumped at every opportunity to condemn him.

Being a Christian and especially an influential one does not insulate you from the daily moral struggles that we all have in our faith

As much as I truly believe the statement above, I also concluded that I did esteem Ravi so highly that I was blinded to his humanity hence my reaction and anything that stood in the way of me considering who he was as a human being. This is where I faulted.

We all belong to communities where we have esteemed ‘Men and Women of God’ to levels at which we have been blinded to the fact that they are not God. This has been spurred by the numerous religious organizations that have sprung up to present alternative approaches to the Christian walk. While this is good progress, it has also presented a challenge because most of these organizations revolve around a particular personality or cultural style that seems to appeal to the masses.

May we seek to understand who God is through careful study of scripture and discipleship that is centered around the character of God and not the character of our leaders

I have not given up on the quest for answers, in fact my search for them has only just intensified. I am open to having honest conversations about church culture and how that affects the Christian walk especially in the African context.