Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of…Healthiness?

As a provider of entry level health care, I am afforded a unique perspective on the current debate over health care reform. “My dog is in this fight”, so to speak. Nevertheless, I am somewhat disappointed in my own level of indecisiveness over such an important subject as this one. I honestly feel more conflicted now than I have at any point in my career over such an important topic. I have come to the conclusion that my conflict lies in the variety of my allegiances.

Here is a quick analysis of issues that contribute to my perspective; I have taken an oath to always do what is in the best interest of my patients and I support causes for which I believe accomplish that goal. Meanwhile, I financially support my profession’s national association which supports the current bill. I am politically conservative, but socially moderate. I am a Christian who feels the church has turned a deaf ear to Christ’s call to care for the sick and poor, but I feel a deep respect for personal responsibility and accountability. It is almost as if I am a house divided against itself. No wonder I am confused!

I recognize that I am not the only one who struggles with conflicting views when it comes to difficult subjects like universal healthcare. I am skeptical of anyone who claims to hold absolute truth in matters such as these. If it was such an easy issue, there wouldn’t be so much debate! However, I think it benefits us all to take a long introspective look at how our personal truth reconciles with biblical truth.

You may or may not remember a book recommended by The Crossing last year called Unchristian. You can read about the book here. The pastors at The Crossing actually taught a sermon series on the content of the book. You can Podcast those sermons here. The book was developed by a research group called Barna. The founder of the Barna Group, George Barna, has recently written an editorial titled “Jesus’s Health Care Plan”. I found the editorial to be convicting in many areas, as well as grounded in the reality of the call to follow Christ’s example in our daily lives.

Barna includes the following list of how Jesus, the healer, is described in the book of the bible written by Luke, the physician:

1. Jesus healed people because He believed that good health matters. People with serious medical challenges lack hope – and people without hope have no reason to keep living. Since life is a precious gift from God, and He wants people to enjoy and celebrate life, as well as the God who gave it to them, restoring health was a viable means to an end. Whenever He had the opportunity to do so, He healed people and sent them on their way.

2. Jesus invested Himself in their healing because He loved and cared for people. In Luke 6:13 we read that “His heart overflowed with compassion” for those people. He did not heal them because it showed His power or grabbed attention as much as He healed them because He felt their pain and knew their desolation. Healing was a practical demonstration that God was not wrathful but graceful.

3. Jesus healed everyone who presented a medical need because He saw no reason to screen some out as unqualified. Whether He knew them or not, He helped them. Whether they supported Him or not, He helped them. Whether they were adherents of His faith or not, He helped them. He did not set up conditions and hoops in order for people to qualify. He just healed them because He could.

4. Jesus healed every kind of illness He encountered. No malady was too simple (such as a fever) or too complex (including paralysis, leprosy, and demonization). He even took on the impossible – death – and raised people from the dead on three separate occasions!

5. Jesus pursued them because He saw Himself as a servant. A servant does what he can to address the needs of those being served, whether the needy one comes to the servant or the servant must go to the needy. Jesus did not get caught up in the ego games of who should pursue who; when He saw a need He went out of His way to address it.

6. Jesus allowed them to disrupt His schedule because He realized that people’s pain and suffering was their top focus in life. Because the main value in His life was giving love, things like remaining on schedule, following His pre-determined agenda, maintaining orderliness and predictability all took a back seat to the chance to affect other people’s lives with genuine love.

7. Jesus expected His closest followers to heal others. The needs of the people were substantial and providing a healing touch grabbed people’s attention so they could see Him for who He was and what His message to them was. Consequently, Jesus included healing in the marching orders He gave to not only the 12 apostles, but to another group of 72 disciples that He had been mentoring in the ways of grace. (Luke 9:1; 10: 1, 9, 17)

When I summon my beliefs grounded in personal truths, I find the debate centres on topics like “big government” and “personal responsibility”. On the contrary, when I survey biblical truth for insight into cultural and social debates, the clatter and clang of competing voices fade into the distance. I am left with a single voice from Heaven asking; “what are YOU doing to show MY love to those I bring into your life”?

It doesn’t take long to imagine how radically the current debate shifts if every believer in every church on every street corner in America is able to present a satisfactory answer to that question.

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