Very soon I will be leaving our house in the company of Stew the Rabbit (pictured on my home page) to take an assembly at a local Primary School. Their theme is ‘special symbols’ and with Stew I will be talking about ichthus and crosses.
I have blogged before about ichthus fish symbols on cars but it has saddened me today as I have reflected that in the early days of the Christian Church, when people’s lives were at risk, the ichthus symbol was a secret sign of their faith and now has been reduced to a bumper sticker.
Why, in a free country, do we keep our faith secret by using the ichthus symbol? Surely we should shout it out joyfully rather than adopting the secret symbol that only those ‘in the know’ will recognise.
I felt a bit judgemental at that point until I realised that there are occasions when I adopt an ichthus approach in conversations with people. I am coy about what I do. I don’t naturally speak about my faith in the same way that I talk about my family or even my favourite football team.
A man was stopped by the gamekeeper leaving a private lake. He had with him two buckets of fish.
The gamekeeper asked the man: ‘Do you have a license to catch all those fish?’
The man replied to the gamekeeper: ‘No, sir. These are my pet fish.’
‘Pet fish?’ the gamekeeper replied.
‘Yes, sir. Every night I take these here fish down to the lake and let them swim around. After a while, I whistle and they jump back into their buckets, and I take them back home again.’
‘That’s a bunch of hogwash! Fish can’t do that!’ was the outburst from the gamekeeper.
The man looked at the gamekeeper for a moment, and then said: ‘Here, I’ll show you. It really works.’
‘O.K. I’ve GOT to see this!’ The gamekeeper was curious now.
The man poured the two buckets of fish into the lake and stood and waited
After several minutes, the gamekeeper turned to the man and said, ‘Well?’
‘Well, what?’ the man responded.
‘When are you going to call them back?’
‘Call who back?’ The man asked.
‘The FISH.’ the gamekeeper said.
‘What fish?’ The man asked.