As everyone probably knows by now, last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Healthcare Bill. It is probably not too presumptuous to assume that thousands of people are blogging about it right now, and have been for weeks or months. I will not pretend to be a political expert, nor even a well-informed citizen when it comes to politics or this healthcare bill.
Here Are President Obama's Comments:
Here are some links to some videos about it: (you may want to right click and open in a new window)
Google Video Search
I have three comments about the healthcare bill:
1) As I am preparing to preach this Sunday (Palm Sunday), the story of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem is fresh in my mind. I cannot help but think of the crowds of people who lined the streets, laid their cloaks on the road, waved palm branches, and all the while shouting "Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."
These same people, just five days later, crucified him.
They believed that Jesus was coming to save them from the oppression the Roman Empire had on their people. They were looking for a political Messiah, an earthly king to lead them into victory. Instead, what they received was a humble, broken servant who died to give us freedom from our sins.
He is the King of a different Kingdom. The politics of this world are not Jesus' first concern, nor is making the US a "Christian Nation." He cares about the people themselves more so than the government over the people. He wants to be a part and center of every person's life. He wants to free us from our bondage, sin, and past and give us a life a freedom in Him.
Does God want Christians to be a part of political conversations? For sure. Does He wants Christians to help lead our country in Godly ways and be agents of change? No doubt. Is making a nation (any nation, not just the U.S.) "Christian" His first priority? No, He's making a new Heaven and New Earth where His reign will be established forever!
2) It is true that not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill. It is also true that many Christians find themselves siding with the Republicans. It's important to note, however, that Christians and Republicans are not synonymous terms. For example, there are lot of ways in which the Republican party fails to care for the poor and hurting in our society. In fact, many believe that a homeless or jobless person is in that state because he/she is too lazy to find a job. To be frank, this is not a Christ-like way to look at people or care for them.
Now, let it be clear that I am not siding with Democrats either. I am simply pointing out that we Christians cannot judge the value of a bill simply based upon how Republicans vote on it.
A lot of what the healthcare bill is doing is good. The immediate changes seem to help a lot of people who are not able to afford health insurance or are denied coverage because of pre-existing coverage. It will save a lot of people from the enormous debt that accrues after an accident or medical emergency. Thousands of people right in my backyard will be able to have health care coverage that do not currently (and perhaps never) have health insurance.
3) There are some things that we Christians should be aware of in this new healthcare bill.
This is an e-mail I received a number of weeks ago from Dr. Jim Garlow, Pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, California:
Greetings Pastors and Church Leaders,
Like all pastors, I occasionally share my heart with my church congregation on many topics facing our nation. At times I am silent on some issues, following Mary's pattern of "pondering it in her heart." (Luke 2:19) One of the issues that I have not spoken on is the healthcare bill before our Congress right now. I was concerned that the topic is so thoroughly hyper-politicized that my comments might be misunderstood. (In fact, that is a concern of mine even now as I write this.)
Everyone agrees that something needs to be done regarding the present and looming healthcare crisis. As believers, I think that we can agree that true Bible-believing churches across America - though having done much in the past - can address this issue much better today than we are currently. I suspect we will agree on that.
Historically, the health care provided by churches - both Protestant and Catholic - has been quite remarkable. In fact, an astounding number of persons are still served today by faith-initiated health care providers. But we can do better. I would love for us, as pastors across the nation, to strategize what the Spirit of God is saying to us regarding how to meet this need in our communities in greater ways. I would welcome shared insights from you.
However, I need to speak specifically to the present legislation. After contemplating the many specific ways in which the current congressional healthcare legislation violates Scripture - abortion being only one - I have decided I can no longer, in good conscience, remain silent. When I received word that the bill had a de facto "marriage tax," which meant that married couples would have to pay considerably more than cohabitating couples (some have calculated this to be as much as $10,000 per year), I immediately asked qualified people to check this out. The "marriage tax" was confirmed.
The way in which biblical Christianity is being denied in the current proposal is profoundly egregious. I have been noting the ways the current proposed bills violate - for starters - the Ten Commandments, let alone the New Testament passages. And it is profoundly offensive when certain biblical passages are taken out of context by some of the defenders of the current legislation.
For the record, I have no interest at all in partisan based discussions on this topic. This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue to me. It is a "people issue." My interest is driven by the ways in which the proposed bill is distinctly anti-biblical.
Now, I have not confirmed whether the specifics of this e-mail are still present in the newly passed bill, but I do think this is a good representation of some concerns we Christians should consider. I am also aware of some changes that it will make for coverage of the elderly and young that some pastor friends of mine have expressed to me.
Okay, so there are my 3 comments about this healthcare bill. Now, I want to hear some of your thoughts. I am much more interested in your theological reflection than on political debate. How does your faith relate to this healthcare bill?