As I was driving in to work recently, I followed a truck whose tailgate was filled with what I call Bumper Sticker Commentary. The owner was clearly trying to be provocative with sentiments such as: “KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY,” “RELIGION RULED THE DARK AGES,” “Bad Influence,” “Militant Agnostic: I don’t know & you don’t either,” “IT TAKES A VIKING TO RAZE A VILLAGE,” and “VISUALIZE WHIRLED PEAS.”
Also: the classic Christian fish symbol…with “Sushi” written inside of it.
As I reflected on these stickers—her commentary on a wide range of subjects—my thoughts ranged from, “Who in their right mind would put all those bumper stickers on their decent Ford Ranger?” to “What has caused her to be so public with her opinions?” I wondered what she would do and say if we had an encounter; how would I respond to her? I wondered, does she really view Christians as “sushi”? I have certainly never been defined that way before, and I wondered what has made this person so angry at Christians.
Throughout history, many have been very angry at Christians, and thirsty for their blood, which forced early believers to communicate with each other through symbols. As the church grew rapidly after Jesus’ ascension, those who claimed Christ were persecuted by both Romans and Jews. During that time period, when two people met and suspected that they were fellow believers, one of them would draw on the ground a simple curved stroke.
Recognizing the stroke, the other person would add a second curved line and complete the drawing: a fish.
It is a simple shape to draw—just two curved strokes. It could be drawn quickly, and erased just as quickly if there were no sign of recognition on the part of the stranger.
This symbol, and all of its rich heritage, has been under attack…and still is. Jesus Himself continues to be a point of contention and attack as well. But what struck me by seeing this truck was the intensity of feeling and the state of mind of the owner. It didn’t matter to me any longer that she viewed me as “sushi,” however she defined that. There have been many who have gone before me who were viewed the same, or worse, and they did not waver…even to the point of death.
The Lord reminded me of Mark 1:17, where He said, “Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.” This bumper sticker commentary, then, was the reason Jesus died on the cross. God challenged me in that moment to move from a place of being insulted…to a place of being willing to reach out, hear her story, and communicate the good news of the Gospel. The Lord wanted me (as He wants us all) to live out the meaning of that symbol, and begin fishing in her pond or—more accurately in our day—her ocean.
This post has been adapted from a post initially appearing on May 3, 2010.