Worshipping with Unbelievers

When I was a young man in my early 20s, I was involved in a worship team where the guitarist was not a believer although he was the husband of one of our members (the church only had 12 members!), he was resistant to the gospel, and would openly admit that he had no faith and that he thought that we who followed Jesus were idiots!
He was, however, very keen on his guitar (a Fender Telecaster as I recall) and loved playing it. Our pastor’s wife, who headed the team at that time allowed him to play every Sunday and also to input musically in our practices. As a young believer, this often confused me…
Was she making a mistake?
Are we not taught that there should be “no hint” of immorality amongst us? (Ephesians 5:3)
Does God not tell the People of God to expel the unbeliever from their midst? (Deuteronomy 17:7, 19:19,21:21, 22:21, 24, 27:27 & other passages)
Many people know the “Belong: Believe: Behave” v “Believe: Behave: Belong” argument (that giving someone a place to belong will lead them to faith and letting the Holy Spirit take care of the behaviour, is far more effective than expecting belief and lifestyle changes before we welcome people into our midst), but to what extent do we allow people to belong? “You can belong – but you can’t do that” – is so often what we say.
I would like to suggest something…
John 4:23 is often quoted in the area of worship where Jesus says says that “true” worshippers worship God in spirit and in truth. Earlier in his conversation with the Samaritan woman however, Jesus also says that “you worship what you do not know” (John 4:22).
In Acts 17:23 (Athens), Paul finds amongst the idols that are worshipped, an altar to an UNKOWN GOD. Paul actually explains to these unbelievers that they are worshipping God.
Romans tells us that people who are futile in their thinking (Romans 1:21) still worship (v25). OK, the object of their worship is not God, but it raises this question…
If it is possible for non-believers to worship idols, created things, and even what they do not know, is it not at least possible to for them to worship Jesus in our meetings?
Why this is important.? Well many churches are hesitant about asking visitors to sing hymns and songs that proclaim truths or declare a faith that they may not have or even agree with. In any church there is the possibility of non Christians being present, but it is more of a likelihood in a Church plant.
Although, we must be mindful that visitors may neither know nor honour God (yet!), if we understand that it is possible for non-believers to worship Jesus, then worship in these meetings IS a LEGITIMATE activity for us to partake in, and it is one which we can, without embarrassment, invite them to join in with.
By the way, the worship team I was describing was over 25 years ago – and this man I described, eventually came to faith, got baptised and a large part of his testimony is the unqualified and unconditional love that he was shown. He is still worshipping God in Church and leading others in worship.

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