There is an old saying that tells believers in Christ that we may be the only Bible someone ever reads; or alternately, that we may be the only Jesus that someone ever sees. Every time I hear that, I admit to having just a little shudder as I say a prayer for those to whom that statement applies. There have been plenty of high-profile Christian leaders who have done and said very unbiblical and unChristlike things over the years. So much so that I wouldn’t even have to go back a month to pull out a shining example or two. From Pat Robertson lying about Alzheimer’s patients being in a “kind of death” and therefore OK to divorce, to Rob Bell declaring that “love wins” and no one should have to worry about hell; I would be willing to give a vast swath of unbelieving people a pass if this is all they have to go on when it comes to the Bible or Christ. And I am not even pulling out the biggies like famous pastors who have committed adultery and such.
The problem of course is that it isn’t in my purview to be able to give anyone a pass; and furthermore, this isn’t all a person has available to truly know the Bible or Jesus unless a person willfully chooses to be ignorant of the things of God. There is no excuse when a Bible is readily available to all of those who are reading these words even now. The person of Jesus Christ is easily discovered and knowing who He is and what He is like is open to anyone who would like to sit down and read the gospels for themselves. The Gospel of Mark is probably a quicker read than perusing every word of a given week’s edition of this paper in a single setting.
Should Christians be Christlike examples and people of character? Certainly, that is the goal. But the Bible also is patently clear, and human experience tells us even beyond that, that we humans are a very fallible lot. If you place all of your trust in some prominent Christian, whether they be a national celebrity or a pastor in your local church, it is unfortunately misplaced. We fail too. In fact, I am always dumbfounded to find that there are some people who think that their pastor (and this has happened to me before) is perfect. My greatest hope is that I am following Jesus closely enough that you can see right through me to where He is at work in my life. But by all means, get to know Him for yourself. Follow Him yourself. Don’t depend on Pat or Rob or me or any other Christian to be the perfect Christ for you. It probably won’t end well.