SYMBOLS by David MaddoxFish symbol
I have always been troubled by how we Christians seek to display the fact that we are Christians.  We have bumper sticks of every variety, the fish symbol to place on our cars, cards and printed stationary, stickers, pictures of Jesus, crosses and other jewelry to wear among other things.  All of these we intend to somehow validate our faith and be our “witness” to the world that we are Christians.  Yet none of that has a Biblical basis.  It is true that the fish symbol was used in the first century, but not to declare they were Christians to the world.  That could have cost them their lives in the time of intense persecution which they lived.  The fish symbol was used as a security device solely to test whether another was a Christian before they allowed them access to where Believers gathered.

Some of the jewelry people wear is also troubling to me.  One of the most popular is Jesus still on the cross.  But He is not on the cross!  Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of the Father waiting on a shout and a trumpet call to return as King for His people, and to rule and reign and judge both the living and the dead.  John experienced the radical difference in who Jesus is now from how He knew Him when they walked the earth together those three years and fell “at His feet as though dead” so overwhelmed was he at the sight of the resurrected glorified Lord (Revelation 1:17).

Additionally so many are hypocrites having declared by a symbol that they are a Christian they then conduct themselves in such a way as to say they are not.  My “favorite” are the cars with “Christian” bumper stickers or the fish symbol who drive at excessive speed, are rude, and “never give an inch” to another driver.  They ought to be ashamed for bringing dishonor on our Lord.  Additionally I found in more than forty years of law practice that when someone told me they were a Christian it usually meant they were going to expect something for nothing and they would conduct themselves in ways that would make me not want to be a Christian if how they conducted business was how Christians actually lived.  Sadly, those experiences caused me to include a clause in the standard retention agreement that I could withdraw from any court case and “fire” them as a client if they every lied to me or failed to tell the whole truth.

So then what is the proper symbol for a Christian to declare to the world they are a Christian?  There is only one – and that one is our lives.  We are to so live that unbelievers will know we are Christians not by what we say (although we are clearly to speak of our faith), but simply by how we live – it is no more difficult than that.  Scripture says that we are to deny ourselves daily, pick up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  We are to declare to the world without saying a word – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).  We are to be like Jesus who said, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) – and that becomes even more clear when Jesus prayed, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:21).  It is who we are – not what we say or wear or plaster across our cars or mail that declare to a lost world that we are Christians and they should want to be one as well.


About David Maddox – After a legal career in both Texas and Arizona that spanned over 40 years as a civil litigator, God called David to leave his law practice and work full time as Discipleship Director for Time to Revive.  That call is really the fruit of decades of prayer for revival and teaching God’s Word, writing discipleship materials and seeking to make disciples.  David married Janet Whitehead in 1976 and they minister together from their Phoenix home.  God has blessed them with four children and thus far seven grandchildren.


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