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Healthcare, Caring, …and Christ

March 25, 2010

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And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him (Jesus) to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him,  passed by on the other side.

The Good Samaritan by Vincent Van Gogh

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”  Luke 10 v25-37

Why does it sometimes seem like we who desire to walk with Christ are walking around, avoiding, the real issue?  We post in capital letters our fears of government.  We write of lies and back room deals. We defend capitalism and demonize socialism.  We conclude it’s all about control.  And on and on we continue to talk   …and walk  …around.

All the while the man beaten, in need of medical care, and robbed by an unjust medical system, is left to die.

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“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mt 22 36-40

Why does it seem like we, who have come to know the heights and depths and breadth of the love of Christ, have so little love for our neighbor?   Why does it seem like we’re more concerned with preserving “our way of life”, our lifestyle, than with improving our neighbor’s?   Why does it seem like it’s more important to us that the quality of our healthcare not go down than that our neighbor’s goes up?  Why do we fight against that which our neighbor so needs?

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“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Mt 5 v7

Why do we who have received mercy upon mercy seem so merciless.  We spout righteous-sounding gobbledygook as if we had higher principles than those with higher empathy.

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Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6 v2

Why do we who have placed our burdens on Christ, now free of burdens, appear so unwilling to bear another’s?   Do we not know the burden of healthcare some bear?  Do we not know that it’s a burden to bear one another’s burdens?  A tax that lifts a burden is a way to bear a burden.

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And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.  Mk 6 v53-56

Why did Christ do healthcare? He didn’t have to   …but he chose to.   One could say it’s part of his legacy.  What is ours?

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Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.  In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed.  Jn 5 v1-9

Why, after 38 years, is the invalid still waiting?  How much longer would we leave him?  How many more years do we debate healthcare?  Christ had no time for it.  He said, “Walk.”

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But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Mt 9 v12

Why do we defend a healthcare system that provides physicians, not for those who are sick, but those who are well?  Why are we so blind to the failures of healthcare based on an economic model of health and wealth?

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“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness?  Mt 22 v23

Why are we not outraged at the injustices of our healthcare system?  Why do we not picket the pharmacies charging the uninsured more than the insured?  Is it not wrong to allow injustice?  Would Christ allow it?

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You shall not murder.  Duet 5 v17

Why do we so passionately (and rightly) defend the unborn but leave the born to die?  Do we “get” what it’s like to need a doctor and not be able to afford to go?  Do we “get” what it means to wait until it’s too late?   Why is it not murderous to deny the treatable access to that which could save their lives?

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Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.  1 Peter 2 v13-17

Why do we continually dishonor our President?  Why do we find it so hard to call him “President Obama”?  Do we not believe he was placed there by God?   Can we not disagree respectfully?

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Heal the sick…       Lk 10 v9

Why do we so complicate things?

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For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.  Mt 25 v31-40

Why is government even in the social services?  If government is doing that which we are not – that which Christ very clearly laid on us –  is not the mess we gripe about OUR mess?

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If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?   James 2 v15, 16

Why is our righteous rhetoric so hollow to the brother or sister in need?

Because it is.

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16 Comments

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  1. Rob #
    March 25, 2010

    Why do so many hospital names start with “Saint”? IE, St. Joeseph, St. Johns, St. Marys…

  2. March 25, 2010

    So it is a good thing to have a Godless government deciding for us how to show compassion. The examples that come to mind are abortion rights which now I will have to pay for, euthanasia which as costs skyrocket is not far down the road. What is promoted as compassion is bigger government. I cannot think of a single program the government runs effectively not to mention efficiently, Usps, medicare, and medicaid to mention a few. Preexisting conditions need to be addressed as do peoples own responsibility for their health, in as much as they can effect it. I for one cannot honor a man who so dishonors God. There were horrible kings placed in the Old Testament to help the people to turn from their sins. Obama and the things he stands for places him in low company as leaders need to be measured.

    • Te #
      March 25, 2010

      I haven’t actually said I was for this particular bill. It’s interesting that people assume that I am. It is far from perfect and has some major flaws as does our current healthcare system.

      So, now let’s work to make it better.

      I’m also opposed to funding abortions. I’m also opposed to letting people die who could have lived had they had healthcare.

  3. March 25, 2010

    Steve, since you’re concerned about personal responsibility, you’ll be pleased to know (maybe) that abortions are the woman’s responsibility. Federal funding for abortions has been disallowed since the Hyde Amendment started getting attached to appropriations bills in 1976:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Amendment

    Anybody who tells you otherwise is just trying to raise money for their cause. Or has a show on Fox News.

    Another very nice post, Tom.

    Steve, 1 Timothy 2:2 for you before you go to bed!

    • March 26, 2010

      I assume Aaron that you give thanks for Ide Amin, Hitler, Pol Pot, the list goes on and on. Be careful misapplying scripture. I am not saying we should not live in peace, but in a democratic society it is our responsibility to voice opposition to evil. As far as abortions being a woman’s responsibility, then I assume you mean raising children is also a woman’s sole responsibility? Or where does the male responsibility for a child begin? In my book it is at conception. By funding for planned parenthood as well as monies given as aid for other countries do not kid yourself that our government is not funding abortions.

      • March 26, 2010

        Actually, a lot of our forebears did pray for their kings despite being persecuted — this was in the olden days before one had the option of sailing for freer shores.

        Regarding abortion, I was of course referring to PAYING for the abortion. If you want to ban it, that’s your battle to fight, and good luck with it — I was just pointing out that with regards to the healthcare bill, if the insured wants to terminate a pregnancy, they’ll have to do it on their own dime.

  4. Ben #
    March 25, 2010

    Oh Tom, you are so naïve – biblical principles don’t apply to government. Republican principles apply to government and biblical principles apply to our private devotional lives.

  5. Jermaine Ross #
    March 25, 2010

    Thank you for what you are saying. I read some of the comments to your post, those from some of your fellow congregation members. Their allegiance to ideology is unfortunate and heretical. I hope that you are not discouraged by them. God bless.

    • diane Eickhoff #
      March 26, 2010

      What an amazing concept, tom — that we might actually consider living by Biblical principles. Most of us are truly like the rich young man — I’m including myself here. When the choice comes between following Christ’s radical message in the Gospel, we turn our backs and walk away (or give just enough to feel like we are doing our share). It’s so easy for those of us with bank accounts, homes, cars, healthcare, etc. to tell those without that they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. When 45,000 people die every year because they don’t have healthcare that is a tragedy, and I too wonder why we are not eager to change that and not picketing the pharmacies that gouge the uninsured and the for-profit insurance companies that deny coverage.

  6. Linda Lang #
    March 26, 2010

    I desire that those in need be helped, but I believe that God’s call here is to His people, the body of Christ, to be caring for those in need. When we, the body of Christ, care for those in need, God is glorified and people are drawn to Him. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16) When the government takes care of people’s needs, then the government gets the glory (if it goes well) and people are less likely to sense their need of God. My husband and I used to be strong supporters of the government caring for people’s needs until we began to spend significant time with people in need and noticed a couple interesting patterns: when those in need are cared for in a personal way, they tend to be thankful and feel cared for and their lives may be changed for the better, but when people in need receive handouts from the impersonal government, rather than being empowered or thankful, they often come to see it as something owed to them. Unfortunately, as the government takes on caring more and more for people’s needs, the church will probably do so less, and fewer will see God as the giver of all good things.

    • Lila Eickhoff #
      March 27, 2010

      This was beautifully written – written with compassion and from experience. Thank you.

    • Te #
      March 29, 2010

      Linda,

      I very much agree with what you write. Just like to clarify one thing: God is the giver of ALL good things regardless of form it comes through …including governments and the things provided through governments (this does not mean it’s his preferred way).

      The question: How do we make it happen?

  7. Edward Carlson #
    March 26, 2010

    I’ve been following these posts, and this discussion is very interesting. I agree with Steve that the government is full of inefficiencies. Neither I nor too many others want a Soviet style takeover of our healthcare system or government. However, as Tom mentioned, raw capitalism is only concerned with maximizing profits. Capitalism as a formula works most of the time. Generally this formula works because it gives society more choices. Ideas, designs, products, movies, cars, etc. are made to satisfy the various tastes and desires of people demanding these services. This is generally a good thing because products are produced to satisfy these needs. The problem with raw capitalism is that money only flows to areas that are profitable. A clever accountant at an insurance company calculated that providing Tom with healthcare is unprofitable. So, sorry Tom you are unprofitable. You are on your own. This is where government, despite all its inefficiencies, will at least step in and help Tom get the healthcare he needs since capitalism will not.

    • Rob #
      March 28, 2010

      Yes, the government will “give” Tom the healthcare he needs…until the money gets tight. Then they will have to be more selective about where their care dollars are spent, and preference will be given to those who will be most productive, so they can continue to generate the tax dollars needed to fund the system. Those who have little or no potential for productivity will have treatments delayed or denied as a cost saving measure. I hope this scenario doesn’t become a reality, but I do believe it will. Compassion isn’t a hallmark of the Federal Government.

      • Te #
        March 29, 2010

        I agree “compassion is not a hallmark of the Federal Government” but where does that put capitalism and Christians?

        For me, and millions like me, the private sector has nothing to offer. Christians have nothing on the table. The government comes forth with a lousy plan. All hell breaks loose. Over what? The lousy plan.

        The options for people like me, are nothing, nothing, or lousy. It’s an easy choice …and it’s lousy.

        What’s the solution Christians promote? Get rid of lousy.

        That’s lousy.

        Now our options are between nothing, nothing, and nothing.

        Compassion?

        It comes across as “Be warm and be filled”.

    • Te #
      March 29, 2010

      Thanks, Ed. Very well said. (Steve said so too.)

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