Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Fish on Your Car is Hindering the Great Commission

I usually try to refrain from ranting on this site, but tonight is an exception. After yet another long and harrowing drive home, I feel compelled to comment on something fans of Seinfeld will well remember. Consider the following exchange between Elaine and Puddy:

Elaine: David, I’m going to hell! The worst place in the world! With devils and those caves and the ragged clothing! And the heat! My god, the heat! I mean, what do you think about all that?
Puddy: Gonna be rough.
Elaine: Uh, you should be trying to save me!
Puddy: Don’t boss me! This is why you’re going to hell.
Elaine: I am not going to hell and if you think I’m going to hell, you should care that I’m going to hell even though I am not.
Puddy: You stole my Jesus fish, didn’t you?
Elaine: Yeah, that’s right!

Ah, the ubiquitous "Jesus fish." For readers outside of the United States, the Jesus fish is a symbol that many Christians in America like to put on their vehicles, usually on the trunk, bumper, or tailgate. As Wikipedia explains, it "comes from the fish symbol formed by two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish." Early Christians used it as a secret way to identify each other, because the letters in the Greek word for fish (ichthys) form an acrostic for the phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."

In theory, there is nothing at all wrong with placing this symbol on your car or SUV to let people know that you are someone who believes in Jesus. However, the theory falls apart once 99% of us get behind the wheel. Because let's face it: Christian or not, most of us are horrible drivers. When you combine rush-hour traffic, a lack of driving skills, chronic texting while driving, and even full-blown road rage with a known symbol of the Christian faith, you have become the polar opposite of salt and light.

Some of you are certainly wondering what the big deal is. After all, most of the drivers you cut off, scream at, or make inappropriate hand gestures toward will never meet you in person. And that is the problem. They will never know that outside of your car or truck you are a caring, committed, follower of Christ who would give them the shirt off your back. They will only know this: that you are the idiot who ran them into a ditch while putting on mascara with one hand and texting with the other, and that you have a Jesus fish on your car. And more than a few of them will think this:

"If that's how Christians act/drive/represent/etc., then I don't want anything to do with them or their Savior."

Sure, that's a ridiculous overreaction and completely unfair generalization, but guess what? Most people don't need much of reason to avoid us as it is. The last thing we need to do is give people one more excuse to avoid Christ and Christians by combining an ancient symbol of Jesus with a modern inability to drive like a sane person.

I once asked a pastor why he didn't have a fish on his truck; he was a pastor, after all. His response was telling: "Paul, until I learn how to not drive like a lunatic, I'm not putting one of those near my truck. It's bad publicity for Jesus."

So to all my brothers and sisters out there with the Jesus fish on your vehicles, I say this: go right now, this very minute, and pry it off. Don't even read the end of this post first. Just do it. Then repent of your horrific driving, ask for forgiveness, and invite the neighbor down the street out for coffee so you can tell him or her about what Jesus is doing in your life and what He can do in theirs.

Better let the neighbor drive.

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