By Pastor Larry Fraizer

Courtesy of Windows Master Clips 1997

We are used to seeing symbols every day in our lives. We see symbols and images on money. As we drive, signs are all around us and help us to navigate safely. Even the driver’s license test requires us to recognize certain signs by their shape and or color only. If you prefer a certain brand of gasoline, you can recognize a station by the image and colors on the sign. These visual aids help instant recognition and you might say that symbols, images, and signs are a visual shorthand taking the place of many words.

The use of symbols in the church is from ancient times and they continue to have their place in the church today. The most widely recognized Christian symbol is the cross. The cross, once a sign of criminal punishment and shame, is now a symbol of honor recalling the cross on which Jesus Christ died to pay for our sins. Wearing a cross is not a mandate for Christians, but it speaks many words concerning the faith of the wearer. The fish is another symbol that is sometimes displayed on vehicles. It is a symbol of Jesus Christ and emphasizes His call for believers to be spiritual fishermen by gathering new disciples.

The Icthus, or symbol of the Fish            Courtesy : Pixabay

A heavy metal anchor keeps a ship from drifting when it is at rest and not moving forward. That same anchor helps a ship hold its position during a storm. As a religious symbol, the anchor means that the soul of the believer is held steadfastly in the hope of a heavenly home. It also symbolizes stability and support during the rough times of life.

The Dove; courtesy of Free Bible Images

The image of the hand represents God the Father, the Creator. Rudolph F. Norden says in his book, Symbols & Their Meaning, “For many centuries of the Christian era no attempts were made to picture Him [The Father]… At the baptism of Jesus nothing was seen of the Father; only His voice was heard.” Eventually, the Manus Dei, the Hand of God, came into use supported by Psalm 8:6: “You made him [Jesus Christ] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” The image of the dove represents the Holy Spirit. “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.” (Matthew 3:16).

The Lamb in its various images represents Jesus Christ. John the Baptist said about Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). In the ancient system of worship a lamb without any deformities was the required sacrificial animal. The image of the wounded Lamb carrying the cross with blood flowing into the cup represents Jesus shedding blood for the sins of the world. The image of the Lamb carrying the banner of victory represents the Resurrection. The crown represents Jesus’ kingship.

There are many symbols and images that the church uses to tell its story. Each image has meaning and helps the understanding of words and concepts that can sometimes be difficult to discern and explain.