“Not one jot or tittle …”

Sally Brown, she had a baby, father said he don’t care

Said it was by some feller from Fortune, what was fishin’ up here last year.

Sally goes to church on Sunday, not to sing and pray, I fear,

But to see that “feller from Fortune what was fishin’ up here last year”.

— Newfoundland folk song, as recorded by Ed McCurdy (1919-2000)

Another religious figure bites the moral dust. This time, it’s the late Ravi Zacharias, whose ministry itself launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse over the years. The conclusions bear out the victims’ stories: the situation is well summed-up by David Robertson in his “Wee Flea” blog.

Zacharias is hardly the only one, nor is this a new thing. I don’t need to spell out the litany of religious figures who have gone full Elmer Gantry and, whether by design or mis-step, got involved in sinful behaviour.

Actually, one of the saddest things about Zacharias is that not only did he commit sin and bully into silence the ones who called him out about it, but he lied about it publicly to the end. If the truth sets you free, then it appears he went to his grave horribly bound-up.

But here’s something we need to remember:

“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

— Matthew 5:18

“Till heaven and earth pass away” is very lofty-sounding, but it boils down to this: human beings will come and go, but the Truth of Jesus Christ and those two “Greatest Commandments” — love God with everything you have and love your neighbour the way God loves you — are eternal. The good news about salvation and repentance unto life will never pass, and that’s the message we need to keep pushing out to our NBF*s.

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

“Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.”

— Matthew 23:2-3

There is a lot of “noise” out there, trying to drown out the Good News of Jesus Christ. Much of the noise comes from “the world”, leaping on the human failings of vocal Gospel-proclaimers — “sniffin’ round like a pack o’ hounds”, as Crosby, Stills and Nash sang — and using that to give people an excuse to deny Jesus. On the one hand, Jesus has a warning for people of “the world”:

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.”

— Mark 9:42

On the other hand, that leaves us with our work cut out: making sure the Gospel shouts louder and clearer than the distraction of detraction, keeping our own conduct above reproach — and I mean, truly above reproach, because as we’ve seen with Ravi Zacharias, nothing gets hidden forever.

It’s a tall order, but it’s exciting at the same time, because (as I’ve said before) we’re the ones God has chosen to live in this time and place, because He knows that — with His Son’s help — we can meet that challenge.

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