That sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it, because we immediately think we can’t make any mistakes. We have to be perfect; otherwise, people won’t believe the Bible. We can’t admit that we make mistakes or fall into sin or show insecurity or pride or have problems or struggles in our lives; otherwise, people will doubt our Christianity. They might think it “doesn’t work.”
But what does MacArthur’s statement mean? What should a person see in us if we are to be the human Bible? I cannot speak for Mr. MacArthur, but I believe people should see the following three things.
First of all, God’s love. Though many think the Bible is all about does and don’ts, it is first and foremost the complete story of God’s love for us and the price He paid to buy us back into relationship with Him. So number one, others should see God’s unconditional love. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Everyone then should see us striving to emulate that love.
Second, Truth. I know that’s the part a lot of people don’t want to hear, because they don’t think it is loving, but if the Bible is indeed true, then not telling someone the truth is a very selfish and unloving act. In fact, Jesus said in John 18:37: “For this cause, I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” Because of God’s love, He sent His son to reveal the truth. However, that truth must be wrapped tightly in God’s love, not in condemnation. God makes it very clear that no one has a right to point fingers (John 8:7). Judgment is God’s domain.
Pastor and author Rick Warren has said, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
A third point is that the Bible is full of flawed people: proud people, weak and insecure people, murderers, adulterers, prostitutes. You name it. They are in there. Some firmly resisted God to their grave while others surrendered and submitted to God, allowing Him to use them mightily. I think we need to be honest with people about our shortcomings. If we pretend that we are perfect, then they are expecting perfection. But we are flawed humans like everyone else, and claiming Christ as our savior doesn’t magically remove all these flaws. Being a Christian doesn’t remove all of our problems either. If it did, many people would want to become a Christian just to claim a problem free life. But people should see that God’s love and strength and peace redeem and sustain us through any and all of these situations.
Yes, many people will never open a Bible, so we might indeed be the only way that they ever experience God’s unconditional love, hear His truth, and realize that though fallen and sinful people, God can still pick us up, brush us off, redeem us, and then use us if we let Him.