Bill Johnson once said, “A man who has an encounter is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” I’ve always loved that statement because it expresses the difference between authentic Christianity and empty religion. In this case it’s a woman named Mariah Jones who perfectly expresses why Jesus came, and why He’s better than any theology could ever describe.
I’ve talked a lot about encountering Jesus vs. religion before so I won’t belabor that here. You can see my posts, like “Experiential Knowing is Believing” or “Taste and See!” What I want to share here is a stunning testimony from a young woman who didn’t believe in God all her life…that is, until He came and set her free!
Here’s what Mariah says about her story on her YouTube channel:
“I struggled with bulimia and anorexia for over four years and it felt impossible to stop. As an atheist, I took a leap of faith and called on God to give me a sign that He existed, and He answered. Jesus revealed Himself to me by immediately destroying the violent and aggressive cycle that had overcome my life for so long. Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the answer. Call on Him to pull you out of the darkness and into the light. He will free you. He will deliver you, no matter how bad the situation may be. Praise the King, God Almighty, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Beloved, THIS is the Gospel! This is exactly how so many experienced Jesus in the Gospel stories. Only we have it better. He’s actually on the inside, revealing Himself to the deepest part of us!
The Gospel is not a canned speech, or prayer we recite. It’s also not some preacher manipulating guilty people with threats of hell. And it’s not only about what He did on a cross 2,000 years ago; it’s what He’s doing in people’s lives like Mariah’s every single day! It’s sheer unadulterated grace and pure love poured out on a weary soul desperate for deliverance and change.
Mariah cried out and Jesus DID answer…personally, directly…with pure love. Her moving testimony exemplifies what the psalmist said:
O Lord my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me. (Psalm 30:2 NIV)
I never get tired of hearing these testimonies. What these real-life stories show us is what I’ve inadequately tried to describe with literally hundreds of thousands of words—simply put, that Jesus is more real and more intimate than the air we breath. He’s not an argument or a philosophy; He’s a Person and He is Love. And every one of us can experience Love if we will but search for Him diligently with an open heart.
Mariah’s story truly is a beautiful example of the song tagline: Jesus can love me more in a moment than other lovers can in a lifetime. His love instantaneously dismantles every lie we’ve believed—about God and about ourselves. His love changes everything.
The title of this video says a lot, too. “As an atheist, I felt sorry for brainwashed Christians.” Sadly, this the mindset of many people of our culture who may have been poisoned by religion but never experienced what this woman experienced firsthand.
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Cor.4:6 NIV)
The video starts with Mariah explaining the moment she encounters Jesus, then it goes back to the beginning (around 2:45 into the video) where she shares her life as an ardent atheist, her searching for purpose and meaning, and the events that led up to this encounter. I pray this testimony blesses and encourages you.