Column: Display of religious symbols calls for unseen responsibility

By Thomas Lott

Daily Toreador, Texas Tech U. via UWIRE

I see something quite often in Lubbock — a fish on the back of someone’s car or someone with a tattoo of a cross. I see something very similar in sports as well; athletes will write bible verses on their eye black or their shoes.

Some people see this as a great witnessing tool, but I see it as taking on a whole lot of responsibility.

When you have any of these symbols on or around you, whether you like it or not, you are representing something far greater than yourself. Many people get cross tattoos simply because they look good, but are unknowingly representing a single pivotal moment in history.

Whether you believe Jesus is the son of God or just a good man, no one can deny the day he died on the cross changed our world forever. Christianity began on that day, and it is still growing to this day.

The tattoo of a cross is a symbol of this day. When someone wears this symbol they are, for lack of a better term, advertising for God. The sad thing is people do not know or even care that they are doing this.

Whether the person knows it or not, when some people see the fish or a cross on someone they look at them differently. I myself will always wonder if the person is a Christian or not. Unfortunately, I will be very quick to judge this person — as will many other people who see this symbol.

People will expect the person to act differently, and if they do not, their perception of that person will be changed instantly.

Another instance of this is a trend I am seeing very often in college sports these days. More and more athletes are putting verses such as Philippians 4:13 on their eye black or shoes. The verse says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

The problem I have with this are the liberties athletes take with the verses. The clearest example was in the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 2008 with Davidson’s Stephen Curry. He wrote this on his shoe: “Phil. 4:13 — I can do all things…”

For someone who knows the verse, this has the potential to be upsetting. Some people will look the other way. Maybe he did not have enough room to write the whole verse, or maybe they think that people know the whole verse anyway. So, what is the point of taking offense?

But the people who do get upset at it will look at it this way: the way he has the verse written says he does not need any help. He is essentially saying he can do anything on his own, and people who are watching the game who do not know the verse might jump to that same conclusion.

Something else that could happen would be curiosity. People may want to see what comes after the words he has written down, and they will go into their living room and dust off the bible they have not used in ten years to look up the verse. But the truth is, people are lazy and probably will not do so.

I am, personally, more on the negative side because the verse was taken out of context and could give people the wrong idea. We need help. People always need help. When we start thinking we can do things on our own, things go downhill very fast.

Stephen Curry had a bible verse written on his shoe, which makes him a representative of God. If he were to do something wrong, people who had seen the verse on his shoe would judge him and could consequently have a negative opinion of Christians.

Another player who wears bible verses is Tim Tebow. Tebow was anointed the “Jesus Christ of college football” by ESPN over the last four years and, quite honestly, did a good job of representing a model Christian.

However, he will be scrutinized for his entire life because of this. People are waiting for him to slip up so they can say Christians are hypocrites. He is a representative of God, and he has to be careful everywhere he goes. If he screws up, people will notice. And when they notice the negative stereotypes will start growing.

I have no problem with people showing their love for Christ with tattoos or fish stickers or bible verses, but they have to know people are always watching and waiting to catch them in a “sin.” They should be aware and proud of the fact that they are representing God.

Do not wear these symbols lightly, for people will always be watching.

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