Can you judge a Christian by his fish?
I’m running some errands in town when I pull out of a parking lot and notice the fish on the bumper of the car in front of me. Being a Christian, I always catch sight of the bumper fish. Is the driver someone I know? Does this newly spotted Icthus wrap around the old Greek acrostic? Does it spell out JESUS in the center? Does it frame a cross or is it just a plain fish? Occasionally I spot the familiar symbol on a passing car and I smile, then I notice the fish is sprouting legs. Hmph. I like the fish that spells out DARWIN being swallowed by a bigger fish. Survival of the fittest.
This particular bumper jewelry is the kind with the funny letters in the belly of the fish—IXOYE. Iesous Christos Theou Yiou Soter. Can’t get any clearer than that. This driver is a follower of the Son of God. A Christian. Like me.
I spot not one, but three bumper stickers telling me this Christian and I listen to the same radio station, the one that plays the best in positive hits, always safe for the little ears in the back seat. I like Contemporary Christian Music and so does this guy. I’m singing along with the radio, nodding my head, thinking this traveler and I are listening to the same cool tune. Then I see the pentagram. I know what that means—I read The daVinci Code.
I notice two more bumper stickers. One reads UNLESS YOU’RE A HEMORRHOID GET OFF MY ASS. I can’t quite make out the other bumper sticker without being a hemorrhoid, but it has a bad word on it. A really bad word. I’m thinking this dude might not be a Christian after all.
But what makes him a Christian? Sporting a fish on his ’92 rust bucket? Listening to sometimes substandard music written about the only thing in the world that isn't substandard?
Is the guy flirting with the sacred feminine just to be on the safe side? Did he have a bad tail-gating experience and feel justified in making a bold statement? I don’t know.
I do know some of my brothers and sisters in Christ find it odd someone like me would listen to that “devil music”, or read a novel outside the realm of acceptable Christian fiction. Do they question my salvation?
Well, I would say to them that the music is occasionally superb. It reminds who I am and keeps me centered when I’m stuck in traffic, scanning bumpers. And studying the literary style of a best-selling author (yeah, that’s why I read it) didn’t squelch my faith one iota.
Do I really need to judge the validity of a person’s faith by anything other than his admission of Christ as redeemer? I don’t know what happened to the driver in front of me to mess him up—if he is messed up. Maybe he’s conducting some sort of social experiment. Maybe his bumper is full of holes and he covers them with whatever he can find. He doesn't owe me any explanation. I won’t burden him with my expectations. The Christian community can overload a person with stuff that twists a simple faith into unmanageable knots. Like the schizophrenic declarations of the bumper I’m following.
I don’t know if this driver is a Christian or not. I know my own salvation doesn't rest on musical tastes, or how much time I waste studying tall-tales, or what’s on my back bumper. I used to have an Icthus but it fell off. I decided not to replace it. Directing covert signals at other Christians is not really why I’m here. I hope my Christianity is obvious, with or without the fish.
The guy with eclectic tastes in bumper adornments turns one way, I go the other. If I ever see the driver again I’d like to talk to him. Not to blast him for sending mixed messages or tell him he’ll never get to Heaven driving around in that car. I’ll just tell him I love his fish.