The Bible. Christians are known for reading it, preaching out of it, and sometimes thumping people with it. But did you ever think about actually *being* a Bible?
Sometimes Christians talk about actually being Bibles. The idea is that people form their impressions of Christianity not just from what Christians say, but also by what Christians do and how Christians treat others.
It’s one of the reasons I’m sometimes reluctant to put a fish symbol on the back of my car. What if I want to go a few miles over the speed limit? What if I don’t always manage to merge gracefully into traffic? People who start seeing a lot of little silver ICTHUS fish tearing around on the highways might start to form a negative impression of all Christians.
The pattern holds true whether it’s a Jesus fish on our bumper or a cross around our neck or even if someone just happens to know that we go to church. Once it’s known that we’re Christians, then we’re on the witness stand. People will look at us and make judgments about what Christians are all about. This can have negative consequences if we display bad behavior, but it can also have profoundly positive ones too. Francis of Assisi is widely quoted as saying that we should preach the gospel all the time, using words when necessary. Our everyday actions often fall into the category of us demonstrating our faith to the world “without using words.”
Check out the definition below. How would it make you feel if you knew people were watching what you do in order to form an impression of Christians or Christianity? How do you feel about being a “Bible” for others to read?
only Bible that someone might read In full you are (or your life is) the only Bible that someone might (or will) read. A slogan that reminds Christians to keep their lifestyle and behavior beyond reproach since non-Christians will judge Christianity by the day-to-day lives of Christians; a slogan that encourages Christians to share their faith with others, since many non-Christians will consider talking with a Christian to learn about Christianity before they will consider reading the Bible to learn about Christianity.
• 1898 The Friend LXXI. (16 Jul. (=7th month)) 415 : Dr. Christlieb’s remark, dropped many years ago, that a “Christian life is the only Bible that the world will read,” seems not yet to have died out from the mouths of public speakers. 1921 Flint “Hands and Feet for Him” Moody Bible Institute Monthly XXI. (Apr.) 377 : We are the only Bible/The careless world will read;/We are the sinner’s gospel,/We are the scoffer’s creed;/We are the Lord’s last message,/Given in deed and word;/What if the type is crooked?/What if the print is blurred?/What if our hands are busy/With other work than his? 1924 Luther League Rev., 1924–1925 XXXVII. 78 : Some time ago I read this quotation—“Your life is the only Bible some folks will read.” If this is true, what kind of material are you giving them to read? Are you pleased with the things they have seen you do? Are you careful with the words they may hear you say? 1928 Presbyterian Survey XVIII. 154 : Someone has said, “we are the only Bible a careless world will read; we are the sinner’s gospel, we are the scoffer’s creed.” The author of those lines I do not know, but how true it is holds to the Mexican race; not only are we the only Bible they will read, we are the only Bible many of them can read. Their educational advantages are few. 1942 King Motives for Christian Living 151 : In the main your life is the only Bible which the outsiders read. You are to afford them no reasonable cause to fling reproach at the Church and the Christian name. 1980 Church of God Evangel LXX. 95 : People in America have heard much about Christianity. They no longer seem to listen to our words. Instead they watch our life to verify within us the indwelling of Christ. As said many times, our life is the only Bible some people read. 1995 The Upper Room Disciplines, 1996 316 : It is not just a cliché to say, “Your life may be the only Bible someone reads.” Does my life so model Christ that others can look at me and know what it means to be Christian? 2000 Stott Sermon on the Mount 14 : There are people in the world who never open a Bible. Still, they are forming impressions about God every time they meet a Christian. You may be the only Bible that someone will read. 2008 Kreider Speak Lord, I’m Listening: How to Hear God’s Voice Above the Noise 126 : “Your life is the only Bible some people will ever read” is an axiom that often rings true. People are watching how Christians live. They can see whether or not a Christian’s lifestyle corresponds with what he or she says.