Auto Ichthus

The Ichthus (also Christian fish, Jesus fish) is a symbol of Christianity from the early days of the church.  In short, “ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) is an acronym for ‘Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ’, (Iēsous Christos,Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as ‘Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior’ “.  -Wikipedia; more here.  The symbolism is still used today on everything from youth group t-shirts to church websites.  A common usage is the auto decal ichthus, and it is the pro’s and con’s of this phenomenon I wish to examine here.

Some Christian leaders do not believe a public declaration of faith is necessary.  If we live our lives as “people of the book” then others will see there is a difference in us.  If you arrive early for work, aren’t stealing the office supplies, and take responsibility for your own mistakes, then you may very well stick out like a sore thumb.  The argument is that if we as Christians conform to the image of Christ, and walk circumspectly of the world, then we don’t need Christian t-shirts, auto emblems nor anything else to announce our presence.  If we need to wear signs identifying ourselves as Christian, maybe there’s a problem. 

On the other hand, there are those who believe we should not be ashamed to identify ourselves to the general public as Christian.  Wearing a mission trip or youth group t-shirt is easy on Wednesday night when everybody has them on, perhaps it’s something else to wear one at school.  True, it may be shameful for a driver with a Christian fish to cut people off in traffic or blow their horn in a fit of rage.  On the other hand, if we took just a second to think about the presence of the symbol we may try just a little harder to be the kind of witness we should be.  Rather than pull off the decal, maybe we should just drive better.

What do you think?  Should Christians display this and/or other symbols of our faith?  Anything can be taken to an extreme.  I listen to Christian music but didn’t go out and buy a cross shaped mp3 player.  Is wearing your church t-shirt in public a good witness, or is that just a way of saying “Look how religious I am?”  There must be a line somewhere between not being ashamed of the Gospel and making a spectacle of one’s self; where do you believe it is?

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4 thoughts on “Auto Ichthus

  1. I believe our lives should reflect the life of Christ, and people should see a difference in us – but is it enough? They might just think we are “good” people. They need to be TOLD why we are different, and the only way of doing that is with our voice, testifying to the life of Christ within.

    Does wearing a cross do this? Possibly not. I do not wear one, but I have no objection to those who do (though I see many who I’m sure are NOT Christians wearing one too)

    With regards the ichthus, would non-Christians know what it is? Or would they conclude the person is fond of fishing? The same goes for WWJD and other such things.

    Years ago I had a car sticker which stated “Find buried treasure. Read your Bible”. One Sunday morning, on the way to Church, unknown by us at the time, a lady turned in behind us at an intersection. She was having marital problems and decided God might be able to help. She had decided to go to Church but had no idea where to go, so she ‘prayed’ about it. She read our sticker and decided to follow us. A week later she became a Christian and not many weeks after that, so did her husband and eventually her children.

    I believe if we have a sticker on our car, it should be Scriptural, easy to read, clear in what it is saying, and a message easily understood by non-Christians. (Then of course, the driver must drive like a Christian should)

  2. Have you read Michael Spencer’s book? The introduction describes how his church youth group (he was the leader) regularly terrorized the local Wendy’s on Sunday nights. It took many years for him to realize how un-Christ like they were out in public as a group.

    There is an old saying about actions speaking louder than words. That probably applies to bumper stickers, emblems and t-shirts.

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