Do Muslims Who Follow Jesus Have to Stop Being Muslims?

My friend Pastor Tim O’Brien sent this to me today. I think it’s worth reading:

For a long while I have wrestled with the question of whether a Muslim can be a worshipper of Jesus and remain culturally a Muslim. The question is also being considered by Christian leaders and missionaries the world over. Let me explain why.

When a Muslim man in a predominantly Muslim society decides to serve Jesus as Lord, he is typically ostracized from his family and community. Often these converts are collected by missionaries into Christian communities made up of other converts from
Islam. The only problem is that they can no longer bear fruit within their original sphere of influence.

To be a follower of Jesus and remain culturally a Muslim seems to be a viable option. After all, Islam is not just a religion,
but a culture with many redeeming values. For instance, Muslims mostly abstain from alcohol and pornography, abhor abortion, and are family oriented.

One Muslim man from Thailand decided to follow Jesus. He renounced his Muslim roots and left his family. Later, however,
according to him, the Holy Spirit convicted him and he went back and apologized to his family.

Now he worships Jesus as a Muslim. While he ministers to his Muslim friends he shares that the prophet Mohammad encouraged the reading of the Gospels. This is his open door to conduct Bible studies with interested Muslims.

The continuing story of this man is that thousands of Muslims have accepted Jesus this way. This is a movement that we will possibly be hearing about in the news in the days to come. From this movement and other efforts across the world, I believe some clear answers for the Muslim world will come to light.

One of the issues, of course, is how does one reconcile some of the things the Qur’an has to say with worshipping Jesus as God. At some points the Qur’an is helpful, standing by the virgin birth and sinless life of Jesus, calling Jesus savior, Word, and Spirit. At other points it can confuse the issues and even be all out contradictory to the Bible.

Some of those contradictions, however, are not the kind that would impact the
salvation message. We have to discern what’s really important. For instance, when I share with Muslims, I don’t make it a point to tell them that I don’t believe Mohammed was a prophet. What’s the point?

Lastly, the title Christian is at issue. Is it OK to worship Jesus and not call yourself a Christian? For some this is a point of contention, but consider some things. The earliest disciples of Jesus did not call themselves Christians. They were called Christians by others. In fact, the word “Christian” only appears in the Bible 3 times. “Christian” was a derogatory term meaning “little messiahs” or “little
christs.”

Peter says, “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” In this context, a proper stance for
a Muslim believer might be, “I call myself a Muslim who worships Jesus, but if you call me a Christian, I will not be ashamed.” Some may disagree, but remember that we are not trying to get people to join our religion, we are inviting every
nation, tribe and tongue to make Jesus Lord.

By Tim O’Brien
Rock of Ages Church
Prepared for Daily Guide 19 May 06 edition

Posted on April 21, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. John's four distinguishing marks of authenticity (outlined in 1 John and expanded upon in detail in Jonathan Edwards' magnificent Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God) may be relevant to this important discussion.John seems to state the following as the essential evidences of authentic Christian faith:1. A lifestyle of obedience to the commands of Christ2. A family-like love for fellow Christian believers3. An acknowledgement (the implication is that it is verbal and public) that Jesus of Nazareth is God incarnate4. Receiving and embracing the apostolic teaching

  2. I meant to add that, we should be careful to avoid adding to these "marks" as indications of authentic faith.

  3. That's very helpful Al. Thank you for visiting my blog. Come back again, will be posting within the next few days.

  4. Fascinating. Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I think it is quite possible to stay within a culture and yet follow Jesus. Messianic Jews follow jesus but continue to practice much of their Jewish faith–the fulfillment of prophesy and of all the feasts and festivals is Jeshua, Jesus. For those who think Christianity only in Western terms, consider this: "Do materialists who follow Jesus have to stop being materialists?" How much of whatever cultural context we find ourselves in, do we have to renounce?

  5. That's a good question Keri. I think that Jesus both fulfills and challenges all human cultures. Anybody else want to weigh in?

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