by Tassos Lycurgo
Regardless of where we are, in any Christian store we go we can buy those signs of the fish (sometimes called Jesus fishes) that are sold to be stuck on cars or anywhere else we want to. Everyone knows that it is a symbol of Christianity but interestingly enough there are only few who know why.
In order to clarify this interesting issue, we’ll address this simple question in our chat today: how the sign of the fish and Christianity relate to each other? Let’s begin showing the symbol we’re talking about:
In all occasions I talked about the Jesus fish with some people in USA as well as in other countries, most of them said it was the symbol of Christianity because it refers to what every Christian should be: a fisher of souls. Those who said that had certainly in mind what the Apostle Matthew wrote in his Gospel:
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4: 18-19)
I personally think this is a very beautiful answer, and certainly it also brings important benefits to our Christian life because the sign of the fish would always be reminding us to be fishers of men. In other words, the sign of the fish would always be reminding us of our duty as Christians to reach out more people for message of Christ.
The problem is that, if we really want to know the historical point of view about the relationship between the sign of the fish and Christianity, the right answer would be quite another one. In order to explain this, let briefly talk about the ancient Church.
As we know, Christians were terribly persecuted, tortured, and killed for simply be followers of Jesus Christ. The Roman imperial persecution intensified in the reign of Nero (middle of 1st Century) and continued until the beginning of the 4th Century, when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the State official religion. After his time, the persecution grew up again and continued until today, as we are aware of what is going on in many places on the planet. As history tells us, there were more Christian believers killed during the 20th Century for their faith than there were in all of the other centuries taken together.
The fact is that, as Christians were persecuted in the early centuries, and as they needed to get together to worship God, they found themselves in the necessity of developing a code to identify themselves as Christians…
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