For 36 years, my wife and I owned and operated a pest control business. This provided for some interesting interactions with customers; sometimes the conversations took an unexpected turn…
I gathered up the necessary equipment and materials from my truck to resolve a serious ant infestation that was apparently taking over the kitchen and bathroom.
As I am walking up the driveway towards the front door, I notice something shiny and new on the trunk lid of the customer’s car… It was a magnetic symbol of a fish with Darwin inside. It made a rather bold statement to the whole neighborhood that the owners of this car believed in the principles and theory of Evolution, the very beginning of life itself.
I was curious why they would use a symbol of a fish when it had a significant meaning to, and actually originated from the early Christian worldview. There it was in plain sight for all to see, their proclamation of their faith and trust; not in the God of Christianity but in an unproven philosophy that man developed and evolved from some slimy goo at the bottom of a stagnant pool.
Reaching the front door I rang the bell. John greeted me with a warm and friendly smile. He said he was glad to see me because the ants were driving his wife crazy. Sure enough, as I approached the kitchen I could see them all over the counter. Thousands of ants were swarming all over her freshly baked Valentine’s Day cookies… she was not happy!
The problem itself was not difficult to correct. Using the right materials and equipment, the ants were permanently gone in about 5 minutes. We all sighed a sigh of relief; John and his wife smiled with satisfaction.
Now that I had taken care of their pest problem, I thought I would ask them about the mysterious symbol on their car…
John and his wife were both well educated; they both had a masters degree in education and were very articulate. They continually asked me technical questions about what I was doing and about the safety of the materials I was using. This was fine with me, I was always happy for customers to ask. I enjoyed the interaction of giving them the assurance that I would eliminate the pest problem while protecting John and his wife. Seems they had a very bad experience with the previous pest control company that they used; left them sick for several days. I understood and appreciated their concerns. I addressed them all in a direct and professional manner. They were satisfied and relieved with my answers.
Now it was my turn to ask them a question or two…why the new symbol on the back of your car? After a moment’s hesitation, John began to explain their strong viewpoint and belief that man evolved. He went on to explain, some mythical god did not create man but rather developed through the process of natural selection. I listened patiently, I had a point I wanted to make about the symbol they used to make their statement of belief.
I thanked him for the explanation and the insight…Then I asked John if he was familiar with the Christian symbol of a fish (which was a major part of the symbol on their car) and what it represents; and how it came about? He gave me the strangest blank look. Before embarrassment set in I began to explain the origin and significance of the fish symbol.
John, I said, each of the letters in the word “fish” is an acrostic, each letter represents a word. In Greek, where the fish symbol came from, the word fish is “icthus”. They represent the words: Iesous, Greek for “Jesus”; Christos, Greek for “anointed”; Theou, Greek for “God’s”; uios, Greek for “Son”; and sōtēr, Greek for “Savior”. Together, this spells ICTHUS or fish; translated we have: “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Savior.”
This symbol of a fish came from approximately the time of Emperor Nero. Historically according to the Roman historian Tacitus, Nero was referred to as the first persecutor of the Christians. After the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64, when rumors swirled that the emperor himself was responsible, Nero blamed the Christians instead, he had them covered in wild beast skins and tossed to starving dogs. Their deaths were hideous and horrific.
When the Roman soldiers rounded up the Christians to martyr them, they chained them together into long lines. It was a time of great sadness and stress. On the way to their eminent death, when the line would pause briefly, one Christian would make a half symbol of the fish with his foot on the dirt, another individual next to him in line would finish the symbol making a fish; this way they knew they were brothers in Christ.
John and his wife seem to be interested until I added the following: Looking at the symbol on your car, it would appear that my Lord and Savior ate your Darwin. Furthermore, as your Darwin tries to walk away, whenever it travels it takes the evidence of the Savior along with it. His truth is ever present even though some chose to deny Him.
They now had a new perspective as to exactly what the fish represented…it is a symbol of the Christian faith in our living Savior Jesus Christ .. The next month I came to service their home; once again walking up the driveway, I notice they removed the symbol from the trunk lid of their car. I could not help but smile, not in arrogance but in knowing, they understood more about Jesus and the powerfulness of the fish symbol.
They remained faithful customers for the next 35 years….