Can someone be half Christian and half Muslim? Recently, I had an interesting conversation with one of my friends who is an immigrant from a Middle Eastern country and has a Muslim heritage. I have noticed that he speaks as if someone who has a faith in Jesus Christ. He doesn’t go to church or the mosque.
I asked him how he would describe his religious faith. He replied that maybe he is half Christian and half Muslim. I asked him to describe what he meant and his description was rather vague, but I began to sense what I thought he was trying to convey.
I sat right up and said to him, “You have to be either Christian or Muslim, you can’t be half of each!” I told him that I observed a faith in him that appeared to be focused on Jesus but that I could imagine how hard it must be to identify with a new religion – that one might feel as if he were betraying his parents and rejecting his Muslim heritage, even though his heart was looking to Jesus.
He said that is exactly how he felt! I went on to advise him that it is okay for him to embrace Jesus in his heart and experience the love and peace of Jesus Christ.
I wondered to myself if I was trying to convert someone to becoming a good Christian church-goer or was trying to lead someone to a heart faith in Jesus Christ. I told him that he did not have to identify himself with the label “Christian” – that he didn’t have to call himself anything, to receive the filling of Christ’s Spirit in his heart.
As he moves in circles surrounded by his countrymen who are almost exclusively Muslim, I told him it’s quite all right to keep his faith private within himself. He doesn’t have to wear a cross necklace or a Christian T-shirt to have his faith focused on Jesus. I told him it’s okay for him not to adopt the Christian label and that it’s equally okay that within himself he thinks of himself as a “Jesus-guy”.
Here is someone from a country with very few Christians brave enough to say that they are Christian. Baptism can come later. Finding a good American church can come later. For now, it is sufficient that this child of God thinks of himself as a “Jesus-guy”.