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As a teenager I was a card-carrying, anti-Christian atheist. Although rabidly anti-Christian, I was open-minded and presented God with a challenge,
“If God could prove, in black and white, that he existed, I would become a Christian.”
Seven years later, in my early twenties, I got what I considered ‘black and white evidence’ that God existed and within a few months, I became a Christian. I remained a Christian for over twenty-seven years. The things I detested about Christianity, namely hypocrisy and denominational division in particular, didn’t evaporate after my conversion, and they remained proverbial thorns-in-the-flesh throughout my years as a Christian.
Becoming a Human Being.
In April 2005, while watching the investiture of Pope Benedict XVI on television, I asked myself, “Does this spectacle truly represent the vision and values of Jesus Christ?” I had absolutely no doubt that this spectacle of pomp and political power was so far removed from Jesus Christ as to be diametrically opposed to his vision and values. It was clear to me that I wasn’t a Christian ‘like that’.
But how could I regard myself as a Christian if I separated myself from others who also confessed to being Christian? I would simply be another Christian hypocrite who chose denominational division over Christian unity, the very things I detested.
And here lies the biggest problem with a franchise; other franchisees can screw up your reputation! More about this in my article “The Pharisee, Sadducee and Franchisee” (link to follow).
After a few days of intense contemplation, I had a breakthrough (while taking a shower, of course).
“I am Shaun, a human being, nothing more, nothing less!”
I realised then, that being a human being is the only indisputable, common denominator that unites all people on earth. There are no franchises in ‘being human’, we are all in this boat together! Our humanity overarches and embraces our gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, culture, traditions etc.
Only our humanity binds us together as a single species, Homo Sapiens.
I sincerely believe that, by embracing our shared humanity, we recognise the “unity in diversity” of our humanity and open the door to a better future for ourselves and all that occupy this planet.
By all means be the best version of whatever you are or wish to be but, above all else, first be a Human Being and recognise the oneness of our humanity in others.
That, I believe, is the right place to begin our conversation.