Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care and The Church

So I wonder if there is anything else happening in the world other than the United States health care bill, Tiger Woods return to golf, or NCAA basketball? These three things seem to fill the news airwaves no matter where I turn. Tiger and basketball will pass within a month, the health care bill, that will take longer to work with. Many people have many opinions about the health care bill, and there is no shortage of people who are willing to share the opinion with great energy and certainty. Being the pastor of a church many have asked me what I think about the health care reform bill, and have left unsatisfied with my answer. My intention in writing today is not to offer my opinion on the bill, if you think you have figured out my stance could you email me and let me know what my stance is cause I am still sorting that out and could use some help.

Much in terms of resources and energy has been spend and will continue to be spent of the issue of health care reform in the United States. Left in its wake are the real issues of health care in our world such as eliminating preventable diseases in the developing world, or getting the care to people in areas of the world experiencing disaster. It is amazing to me how self-centered and Amerocentric, not sure that is even a word, the whole debate is. Whether we have private or state-run health care the fact remains we have a health care system. There is actually access to care and preventable diseases are not running out of control. The over whelming majority of people do not have their very life threatened daily by a mosquito. Once again our American arrogance is showing a little more than I am comfortable with.

What does this have to do with the church anyway? The title if the entry is Health care and The Church, when do we get to that? Right now. No matter what particular version of the church you are engaged in there are people who hold opinion as to the greatness of the health care reform situation. At the core of the divide is a common thread, the role of the government in the day to day life of an individual. There are certain ways people feel the government should function but at the core all sides of the issue are creating the same challenge. They expect the government to be the ultimate source of security, direction and function. Biblically there is a word for this, idolatry. The church of Jesus Christ in America is relinquishing to the government the role and responsibility that the church has been given since the beginning.

Governments will do what governments do. No matter what decision is made there will be people who agree and others who do not. A policy enacted today can be changes the next, or when those on the other side of an issue gain "power". The reality is the government cannot save us, nor can it destroy us. Through the centuries governments have come and gone, and the styles of government have come and gone, and come around again. In it all there still remains the church of Jesus Christ. Pilate couldn't stop it, nor could any of the early Roman leaders. Stalin, Hitler, or any other world leader has been able to stop it. Sure there have been times when it has been more difficult to be a follower of Christ, and yes there have been countless numbers of people who have been put to death for their faith. None of this has stopped the church of Jesus Christ. Through it all God has remained God, and the call of the people of God has not changed.

What is the call of the people of God? Love God above all things, with everything within and outside of you. To share the story of God and humanity with all people everywhere. To bring good news to the poor, naked and blind. And to not stop until as many people as possible experience the Kingdom of God in their midst. No matter what our national health care plan is, the calling of the people of God does not change. I wonder what would happen in people in the church of Jesus Christ spent less time debating a government policy or plan, and invested their resources, time, talent and treasure, into being good news to the poor, working to eliminate preventable diseases all around the globe? Is health care like we have in the United States a divine right? Do we have to carry a little card proving our health care coverage to be fully embraced by the Kingdom of God?

When it comes to health care and the church, what a government does or does not do should not change what we do. Let us stop worrying about a Republican or Democrat plan. Let us stop worrying about who has coverage or not. May we, the church of Jesus Christ, work to see all of God's children have the opportunity to have live. Whether in the United States or any place in the world, let us not rest until preventable diseases stop killing people.

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