Tue | Aug 14, 2018

Oracabessa artist closer to God after leaving Church

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMOrantes Moore
Visual artist Shaun Reid.


Visual artist Shaun Reid was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Mary for 10 years, but claims to have developed a closer and more meaningful relationship with God since leaving the denomination in 2015.

Speaking from his home and studio in Oracabessa, the 32-year-old painter said by exploring Jesus and the Bible on his own terms, he has been able to gain a much deeper understanding of what it means to be Christlike.

Reid told Family and Religion: "I used to believe that you have to keep the Sabbath, but it was more like pleasing God or else. What I now get to understand is that pleasing God has nothing to do with keeping any commandment or law.

"It's about allowing the virtues of Christ to be a part of your life; showing mercy and love and sharing, not just with your family and neighbours, but even with the random stranger. That is who Christ is, but religion teaches me that the Church comes first.

"Just the other day, we see where a (Moravian) pastor was caught with an underage girl. This kind of thing goes on in the Church, and even though it is covered up and people don't talk about it, it keeps happening, and I just can't accept such a system as God's system."


Christ's example


Reid believes that religious leaders of all denominations must follow Christ's example and become more inclusive if they want to increase the size of their congregations and church memberships.

He explained: "God is reasonable. He is not just sitting up in the sky saying: 'Do this, and if you don't, I'm going to do this to you.' God is about mercy, and that's the aspect Christianity lacks. I grew my hair and people passed all sorts of remarks because I have locks, but I just don't think it is right to judge a person by their appearance and how they dress.

"I have long hair, but so did Jesus, John the Baptist, Sampson, and a bunch of other people in the Bible. I hear the gospel in the music of Chronixx, Bob Marley, and young artistes such as Jahmeil and Vershon, and these artistes are reaching a set of people the religious leaders refuse to reach.

"Religion seems to be about condemning people, but God is not limited to anybody, '... neither Jew nor gentile, bonded nor free, male or female' (Galatians 3:28). He can be seen in nature, and that is what I am trying to bring out in my work.

"Once upon a time, it was just about capturing a mood, but now I want to send a message of hope because based on how things are going on around us, we can see that if things continue, the Earth will self-destruct.

"I'm just trying to remind people the waves are still crashing, the water is still running, the breeze is still blowing, and the trees are still growing. I'm telling them: 'Look, the only problem is man because God is keeping His end of the bargain: everything is still in balance.'"