Recently, I noticed a google search that lead someone to this blog: Can a non-christian worship God? I’m assuming that google lead them to either THIS POST about whether or not a non-Christian can be on the worship team, or THIS POST about the arguments over sacred vs secular in church music. While I hope that either of those articles was helpful to the person’s Google search, I realized that both flirted with the question, but never answered it directly: Can a non-Christian worship God? Yes or no.
HOW DO WE FIND THE ANSWER?
I think if you were sitting around a table at your favorite coffee shop and you threw the question out to the group you’d probably get a wide array of answers. But that’s not as important as how we come to the answers. There’s a lot of opinions out there but where is your authority? If you can’t “chapter and verse it” than you are standing on very shaky ground. We can look to logic, experience, or feeling, but all of those fall short of the power and authority of the word of God. The Bible itself has the answers for us, and as worship leaders we need to know God’s word, especially in regards to how we should function in the church and how we should worship. (See Proverbs 3:5-7)
THEY CAN TRY
The Bible is full of accounts of people attempting to worship who did not know God. Jesus himself said that there will be many who come on the last day an use their acts of worship and ministry as an attempt to justify themselves before him. Sadly for those people Jesus will respond “depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23). You can also look at Simon the Sorcerer in Acts chapter 8 who joined the church and professed faith, but after a time his true heart and sin were brought to the light. No doubt he sang the hymns and chorus’s of the day. No doubt he partook in communion which is an act of worship. But in the end it was for nothing. As the prophet Isaiah says (Isaiah 64:6) our “righteous acts” before God are no better than filthy rags before God. People try to come to God, people try to worship in their own way. They can try… but they will fail.
THEY WILL FAIL
The seminal passage in the Bible on this subject is Romans 8: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
So the person who is not in Christ who tries to worship will fail. Apart from Jesus, anyone attempting to worship will just plain fall short.
Just because a non-believer comes to a church service, and sings along, and can’t worship, doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way.
1 Corinthians 14:22 talks about the work of God The Spirit in the lives of believers as a sign to non-believers. Specifically Paul is talking about the sign of tongues, but I don’t think we’d be out of line to make a more general application. During a church worship service, whether it’s in the worship, prayers, communion, or teaching, God The Spirit is testifying to any unbeliever present about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So in our leading worship, we should ask and pray that the Father would use our songs, prayers and music to testify of Jesus to all who are present and especially to those who don’t yet believe.