We have a lot of badges that we use to declare our devotion to the faith. Some badges we use to display our faith to heathens and push back the forces of darkness (Christian t-shirts, Jesus bumper stickers, the Bible we carry everywhere, light-up manger scenes, Testa-mints). Other badges are the secret code we use to identify ourselves to other like-minded followers of Jesus (fish on the business cards, using words like “blessed” and “glory,” putting the entire Left Behind series on a prominent shelf in your house) .
The thing is, these badges do not push back the forces of evil. They can’t. The only thing they do is make us feel good about ourselves. We feel like we are standing for the cause of Christ and making people aware of Him, but really we are not. Christian badges are an artificial display of faith that do nothing to advance the cause of Christ.
God gave Ten Commandments to His people at Mt. Sinai. Each of these commands is fairly simple: Don’t worship other God’s, don’t steal, don’t kill, etc. The second command is this: Thou shalt not make any graven image. In ancient times a graven image was the symbol of a people’s god. It would be used for worship, but also used anytime the people wished to invoke their god. As a nation marched into battle, they would carry carry an image of their god before them. When enemy nations saw it they would understand which god stood against them. The God of the Hebrews instructed His people that they were not to do things like the other nation. Their God would not be represented by carvings and symbols. They were the image of God. They were His hands. They were His face. When the world looked at God’s people, the world would understand who God was.
This is why the “Christian” t-shirts and bumper stickers don’t work. God cannot be displayed through an object. God is displayed through people.
So when I refuse to wear a Jesus hat, stick a fish to the back of my car, or march in protest with my “I Love Jesus” sign, it is not be cause I don’t love Jesus or am ashamed of Him. It is because I will always choose to be the image of God rather than show it.