So, I’ve put this ‘modified’ fish symbol on the back of my car. People have given me the original fish symbol in the past, but I’ve never felt comfortable enough to display it. I guess because I don’t drive in a ‘ Christian ‘ like manner all the time. And I wouldn’t want to degrade the Lords name with my bad behaviour. Over the years I’ve seen a lot more of these fish on the back of vehicles and it has started me thinking. What was the historical context of this symbol ? And, as we use it today, are we honouring the heritage that it comes from ? Or has modern Christianity hijacked the symbol, and now it conveys a very different meaning ?
Ancient Christians in Rome used this symbol to identify one another. The Apostle Peter ( who ministered in Rome ) was originally a fisherman, that became a ‘ fisher of men ‘. The Roman Christians embraced that vision, and the symbol of a fish came to symbolize them. They were under a death sentence for being Christians; as ordered by Roman Emperors, beginning with Nero. To be a Christian meant that you were willing to suffer persecution and torture. You embraced the idea of being the ‘scum of the earth’ to fulfil the cause of Christ. To be a follower of Christ certainly meant you had to pick up your Cross that almost always led to the coliseum. Commitment to Christ held grave implications and yet, they persevered by remembering the poor, doing justice, extending mercy, forgiveness and loving their enemies.
When we put the fish on the back of our cars, what are we doing ? We seem to be more interested in ‘ re-birth ‘ than ‘ taking up a cross ‘… We seem to be promoting that life with Christ leads to upward mobility rather than,’ He must increase and I must decrease‘. There’s not much talk about the cost of following Christ but rather what Christ can do for you – make you happy, fix your problems, make you successful, fulfil your personal dreams. When your average non Christian is following behind our vehicles and they see that ‘ fish ‘ what do you think comes to their minds ?… Or caused this kind of response
When I first saw my ‘ modified ‘ fish it made me laugh. But then I saw a challenge there that I think we could all consider. The faith that we have embraced is supposed to be about transformation. Transformation of ourselves, our communities, workplaces, schools, our World etc. Are we transformative or have we ingested some kind of spiritual trans fat ? …. Have we become ‘ Mac-church ‘ clogging up our lives with attitudes, activities and stuff that makes us sick ?… Have we forsaken the legacy of our spiritual ancestors ?… Who showed us how to live in a way that would bring about something worth dying for ?
Christians who live in the societies that we represent in North America, live in a world far removed from our Roman historical brethren. We live in luxury and safety, enjoying all that our entitled society has to offer. Our lives aren’t threatened for being Christian; Unless we invade or interfere with an Islamic country. We enjoy the great majority of resources that this world has to offer without much thought to the environment or the well being of others. We live in grand houses, and drive the latest vehicles ( where we stick our ‘fish’ ) and generally embrace this great consumeristic / dept ridden way of life we find ourselves in. We demand our rights and yet we don’t have much regard for the poor and needy.
So, are we going to eat His flesh and drink his blood ? ….. Or would we rather have some fast, tasty, convenient, comforting ‘ fish n chips ‘ ?…..
Oh, by the way, for some excellent Fish n Chips check out this place and here as well . Also, this is a pretty good ‘chippy’ too – Willows Galley 2559 Estevan Avenue Victoria,
Phone: (250) 592 2711. They’re so good, they don’t need a website.