How do you know that you’re really a Christian? Do you live the way we are asked to have in the Bible? Do you look like a Christian? Do you speak like a Christian? Do you feel, breathe, and live every action by; like one who walks in the footsteps of Jesus Christ? Ok….now, how do you KNOW someone else is a Christian? Do they meet the same criteria? Do you see those criterias, or do they tell you about those criterias? There are many things that going to the characteristics of a believer in Jesus Christ. If we all had the same focus, that being living like Jesus here on earth; wouldn’t believers be more easy to find and bond with as fellow brothers and sisters?
Very early in the history of the Christian church the fish became a symbol of Jesus Christ and the faith. It was scratched on the walls of Roman catacombs and may be seen today decorating walls, alters, pews and vestments. The symbol came into use because the Greek word for “fish” (ichthus) is composed of the first letter of each word in the Greek phrase, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”
According to Christianhistory.net:
Tertullian put it this way: “we, little fishes, after the image of our Ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water.”
Greeks, Romans, and many other pagans used the fish symbol before Christians. Hence the fish, unlike, say, the cross, attracted little suspicion, making it a perfect secret symbol for persecuted believers. When threatened by Romans in the first centuries after Christ, Christians used the fish mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. According to one ancient story, when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company.
A symbol….a way to recognize commrodery and unitification amongst a group….this group, being ones who FOLLOW CHRIST. Now, if you meet a stranger on the street, if you try to draw a half arc on the ground, you may get weird looks and even yelled at. People will persecute you for ANYTHING. If they did know what you were meaning, then they’d probably ask you what denominational fish it is?
What have we done with our witness? When did our example of love through Jesus turn into a distain for each other? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everyone, but the majority of those who claim the name of Christ are struggling to do the one command Jesus left us with! “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’(Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)” The first thought that tares my heart up about this verse and what I’m stating is, do we really dislike who we are that much that we can’t whole-heartedly LOVE one another? The other reality is in your face apparent….we struggle with loving our Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
In much of my experiences as of late it had become more clear to me that we as God’s children have a misconception of real Godly LOVE. We have allowed our denominations, our upbringings, our miniscule pet-peeves, and general petty conflicts or dislikes set a new perception to this world that being a Christian is negative. We come across bitter or mean when we are asked to give or respond in love. We pass our brothers and sisters in Christ in our church halls, restaurants or even on the street; ignoring Jesus’ call for us to LOVE….do to something as mentioned above.
In John 13:33-35 NLT:
Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Disciples….interconnected with the same purpose….to show this dying world the LOVE and guidance to Jesus Christ! In today’s digital world, friendships and relationships are just an “unfriend” away from disconnect. We weigh our love by our friend status and not as much on our face-to-face interactions. I cannot tell you how many people have disappeared from my friends list on facebook for no apparent reason! Many of these people being Christians. No explanation as to why and no communication for any reason. Is this the kind of Jesus we are reflecting to onlookers? Who would want to follow Jesus Christ if the only Jesus they can see is through our failed love expressions to one another! Inconsistencies, lack of spiritual priorities, hypocrisies, self-preservating interpretations of the word, etc. The saddest thought to imagine in this is we are showing the most of these behaviors amongst believers. In the name of Christ we are separating from one another through our sinful roots cultivated by our wants and desires and not Christ’s….and calling it His will for you in that moment.
Jesus is the only one truly meant for the center of your heart and of your actions. He is also the only one who can help us work through our sin with others for His Father’s glory! But before anything could ever come of these issues we have, we need to understand it stems from a heart conflict. If we can admit to that, then the conflict might be easier to deal with. First, we acknowledge that conflict is inevitable. Then we go the next step and say, “When your nose does get bent out of joint—not if but when—you have a biblical responsibility to take the high road of conflict resolution.” That means going directly to the person with whom you’re having this conflict rather than building a guerrilla team to ambush this person later. However, if you are one that falls into the temptation of having someone speak to you about someone else; You have a biblical responsibility to interrupt mid-sentence and say, ‘I think you’re talking to the wrong person. Please go to the individual with whom you’re having this conflict and seek to resolve it in a God-glorifying way.’(credit: Logos Bible App–LYCCR:30STYM)
The only way my brothers and sisters to find the love for each other is to FORGIVE each other of the same short comings you have….IF you’d only admit it! The church, Jesus’s baby, His bride, what He died for….is represented by US! It’s full of redeemed sinners and sinners needing to be redeemed! How dare WE….who’ve been the ones redeemed, show unforgivness towards others who still are searching for their redemptive worth!
These rocks aren’t being thrown at us by as many unbelievers as those who are of the same family….no matter the denomination, race, gender or belief focuses….WE ARE THE SAME FAMILY.
These words of the famous leader Gandhi rings so vividly in my ears each time I think of holding a pathetic grudge against my family in Christ:
Sin is so rampid around us all and I know is always hard to be just like Christ 24/7 in this walk….but when we interact with one another and there’s no doubt in your heart who you represent….WHY do we look so ugly to one another? Our ichthus cannot stay severed in the eyes of this world or we might as well stop fishing for them. We are either in this for all eternity with Christ or we are just another hollow title to this world.
Matthew 10:40 NLT
“Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me.”
Will you connect the Ichthus proudly or hypocritically?