I must be honest and say, at this point in time, there is no fish sticker on my car. However, the gospel has a desperate dynamism that will use absolutely anything to communicate the truth and sometimes we are bit too sophisticated for our own good.
There are a number of people out there for whom a sticker on a car, or something similar, is an important link in coming to faith. I hope that people will naturally recognise my stylish and enigmatic faith, but sometimes people need something to trip over in order to begin the conversation. Of course, there is a line to be drawn. Smelling of fish or dressing up as a giant fish would also be a conversation starter, but it might give the wrong impression.
We live in a democracy and it’s important to take every opportunity to stand up for what you believe in. You may think a fish sticker is a bit naff, but in my (limited) experience, the Holy Spirit seems to be able to transcend any kind of cliché. In the end, if you’re going to do something, it’s better to do it badly than not at all.
The biggest reason that I don’t have a fish sticker is that I don’t really want the conversation. That’s the problem. It’s like getting a new job, and on your first day people finding out you are a Christian; suddenly you’re under more scrutiny. On one level that’s really annoying. People stop you having a third pint, because they say you shouldn’t. However there’s also something quite releasing about outing yourself as a christian – because then you have to live up to it as best you can, and that will actually keep you more in touch with God. That’s the theory anyway.
Milton Jones is a stand-up comedian. His latest book is Even More Concise 10 Second Sermons (DLT)
I’ve never had a fish sticker on my car. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I hear they are incredibly hard to get off, and therefore if you sell your car to a non-Christian they will end up falsely passing themselves off as a Christian. And it may also affect the value of the car.
Secondly (and slightly more seriously), I don’t think that anyone, apart from Christians, has any idea what the fish sticker means. If you want to be public about your faith, your bumper sticker should be far more explicit. It should be a cross, or say ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ or ‘My Other Car is in Heaven’, or something, whereas a fish sticker is a sort of secret code among Christians.
Most people have no idea what the Ichthus shape of the fish sticker is, what it means, or where it comes from. The Ichthus comes from the Greek word for ‘fish’. The letters stood for ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, saviour’. It was used by persecuted Christians to identify each other without needing to use words. But the last thing Christians need today is some kind of secret way of picking each other out.
It could be a conversation starter, but I think it starts too far back. The only person who is going to pick up on a fish sticker on your car is another Christian. That’s not a bad thing in itself, and if you are driving badly it will at least give them the chance to say, ‘I’m shocked that another Christian overtook me at 95 miles an hour.’ Although there’s always the chance it’s a non-Christian who couldn’t get the sticker off their car.
James Cary is a comedy writer for radio and TV. He is the author of Death by Civilisation (DLT)