Howling Sea Lane, Religion

FISHing for Business of Fishers of Men

Context is everything, isn’t it?  You take one detail out of context and the whole story changes.  Out of context a stolen handkerchief becomes all the evidence Othello needs to believe Iago’s whispered machinations.  A half-heard conversation is the plot device in half of all romantic comedies.  Religion certainly suffers from contextual conflagration.  I am initimately familiar with that one.

We end up with cards and door-talkers on our front porch all the time, advertising this or that service.  Lawn, handyman repair, babysitting, you name it.  I don’t pay much attention to any of them, but the surest way to get me to throw a business card or flyer away is for me to spot an Ichthys (Jesus fish), cross, or dove on it.

I’m a Christian.  I am just wary of people who use symbols of faith to advertise their business.  I know that the various emblems are supposed to signify trustworthiness, or solidarity, or make me feel comfortable doing business, but I can’t help feeling that if you are willing to take something holy and full of meaning, something that should inspire reverence and awe, and slap it on a piece of colored copy paper as a means of recommending your ability to snake my drains, you aren’t taking it as seriously as you should.  So, my brain connects the dots to the conclusion that you don’t take the message of Christ seriously, and therefore don’t take me seriously, and won’t mind trying to charge me $500 for a new toilet when all I need is a $3 orange plug thingy.  No thank you!

Think about that.  Do you think Moses would have had an image of the Ark of the Covenant stamped on his business card?  Why, or why not?

The why-not is easy.  The Ark of the Covenant belonged in the Holy of Holies, and all it was was a container for the Ten Commandments.  How much holier the image of the cross, the fulfillment of every other commandment and the symbol of our salvation?  It’s not just a throwaway.  It means something other than that people should shop at your knick knack store.  I say this as someone who used to have an Ichthys on her car.  Reformed whatevers are always the worst, aren’t they?

But I digress.  I was talking about context and had in mind Matthew 6:19, which reads from the NIV: “19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Usually, when we hear this scripture, it is in reference to monetary wealth or ownership of things, but when you look at the verse in context of its chapter, we are actually talking about prayer and charity, and whether we prefer God’s reward for our acts of righteousness, or the praise of men. 

I think this is why the use of holy symbols for personal gain bothers me.  A cross on your business card is shorthand for set of very detailed and defined characteristics.  What you are asking me to do, when you have that dove of peace stamped on your card, is make a connection between your business model and Jesus Christ.  You are asking me to make a mental connection between the service you are offering, and the service Jesus offered.  And as much as I need my air conditioning, it is a stretch to assume that your ability to fix my leaking coolant is akin to Jesus’ ability to save my eternal soul.  The context of the symbol means everything.

More, you are enticing me to give you my business based on a public show of your religion.  This means you are asking me to give you my business based on your having trumpeted your righteousness in the streets–exactly what Jesus warns against in Matthew 6. 

I should know your business is christian in its practices by reputation and living example, not by a logo that any thug can draw.

3 thoughts on “FISHing for Business of Fishers of Men”

  1. Lane,

    I feel the same way, esp. with emails that tell me “if you love Jesus, you’ll pass this on.” Ratio of passing on said email? Try rarely, if ever.

  2. I respect your desire not to have such a precious and Holy gift watered down, disrepected, or used for personal gain. But how did you make that jump that having a cross or dove or whatever on a Christian’s business card is somehow meant to entice you in an unethical manner?

    I can understand your point of view, but have you ever considered that it is just a business person’s way of “not hiding” his light under a bushel? Or letting other believers (who may just happen upon his business) know that they are in the company of another believer?

    I’m a bit ambivalent about the topic. I’ve been reading posts where Christian business owners are wary of sharing the fact that they are Christians because of negative reactions towards them, regardless of how good their product or service might be. These folk are then struggling with “how” to come out of the closet, and at least show Jesus they are not ashamed of Him. Sticking a fish on their business card might be their most overt action.

    1. Sorry it took so long to get your comment approved. I’ve been away.

      Thank you for your response. I absolutely have considered that some may be using Christian symbols in innocence and sincerity–I’m sure a lot of people are. After all, I outed myself as a former symbol waver, and I certainly wasn’t flying my flag as a way of enticing someone. And that’s my point right there: If a person is slapping a symbol on his door, window, business card, flyer, website as a means of saying, “I’m one of you, so you should do business with me,” I think it is unethical. I think it is unethical to use your religion as honey to the fly for your personal profit.

      As for those who are afraid to admit their faith, I would point them to Romans 1:16, John 16:33, and 2 Corinthians 3:2–4. Basically, we can’t afford to be ashamed of the gospel, and should take heart that any negativity we face is already overcome in Christ. Paul admonishes us to live lives that allow people to read the writings of God through our actions. Neither he, nor Peter, nor James, nor, John, nor Mark, Matthew, Luke, and certainly not Jesus ever tell us that the way to show our faith is through a little picture.

      Hope that helps explain my thinking a little more.

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