Jesus has been in the mainstream media a lot lately. It all began when Dave Emmett, a leader at King’s Church which I am a part of, quoted an article in the Guardian about how the church was growing in cynical and unbelieving London. A couple of weeks later, he began his teaching by reading from a Times report on the growth of underground churches in China.
Since then, I have been keeping my eye out for the good news of Christ published in broadsheets. Just this week, I picked up a copy of the monthly Observer Woman from the Guardian and was glad to read about how one woman was transformed after giving her life to Jesus.
In a section called The Ex Files, two people share on what went wrong in their previous relationship. Jeremy Norton and Juliette Harris met in a gay pub as musicians, but 18 months into the relationship, Juliette found Jesus and felt the relationship with Jeremy was no longer right. She now runs All Saints Retreat, a Christian centre in Bulgaria born from a vision God spoke into her heart as she was strolling the Balkan mountains alone.
Jeremy said: “She made friends with a girl in another Brighton band who introduced her to church. One day she came home and sat on my sofa shaking. She said she’d had an experience that she couldn’t put into words.”
Juliette said of her first encounter with Jesus: “My outlook on life did a 180-degree turn almost instantly. I asked Jesus to change my life, and from then on something just shifted. Suddenly it was like there was no connection with Jez on that real spiritual level any more. I felt in the core of my being that some of the stuff that had been fine for me was no longer OK. I didn’t want to spend my time in the pub, and I gradually stopped wanting to sleep with Jez. When I finally said I didn’t feel comfortable with us sleeping together until we got married, he felt like the final closeness had been taken away, and we decided to split up.”
This is one of many stories about a personal encounter with God. The Bible is clear about dating non-Christians and sex outside marriage. Scripture is full of verses on how much God cares about our bodies (1 Cor 6:13) and how the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21).
But before you stop reading, Paul does go on to say: “Some of you were once like that, but you were cleansed. You were made holy and you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:11)
I’m glad Juliette made the bold step of getting her story published in such a widely-read national paper. There are many Christians who find it hard to break off from their non-Christian partners, but I know the ones who did are now living the best life with the best person God has chosen for them.
This is how God works: when we choose Him, we choose to give up all rights to run our own lives. In turn, He gives us more than we can ever ask for or dare imagine.