Where is the church in the health-care debate?
That was the question that was raised by MSNBC news show host, Ed Schultz the other day. I only know that because I was flipping through the channels and happened past his show. He was calling out Rick Warren (Saddleback Church pastor and well-known author) and Joel Osteen (pastor of the Monolithic Lakewood church here in Houston). He was wondering where these “big time” pastors were in this health-care debate. Why weren’t they on the front lines trying to make this happen? Mr Schultz believes the pastors should be supporting the work of President Obama, so where are they?
It’s a fair question, except for the fact that most talking heads on most networks seem disgruntled whenever a pastor speaks up in the political arena. In my experience the media folks are more apt to ask questions thrown out about tax-exempt statuses and things like that when pastors speak up. Funny how when you find a way to use the pulpit for your own advantage your more lenient with your judgment.
The question is, though, do we care about health-care as Christians? And the easy answer is YES, we do care. We want people to have health-care. Methodist Hospitals weren’t always big organizations, they began as a way to bring health-care to more people. As Christians I believe the majority of us want to see families cared for and we want them to be healthy and productive. The problem is the health-care debate is not really about getting health-care to those who need it. The health-care debate is about HOW we get health-care to people who need it. Unfortunately, the opinions in the church are as varied as they are any where else as to what should be done, which may explain why we don’t hear more from the more vocal pastors.
Personally, I like the idea of the church being on the front line of health-care – not the front line of the debate but the front line of caring for others by doing what we can to help them be healthy. Maybe it’s time to direct more of our resources toward clinics. Maybe it’s time to encourage those with medical talents and gifts to give time to serving those in need. It might mean the church has to help support them, even find ways to help them cover the costs of medical school. I went to school to get a degree so I could be ordained and serve the church, and while I have paid for much of it myself (and still do), I have had some help from the church. Maybe it’s time we put more effort into being the church that cares for the sick and not just be the church Ed Schultz wants – one that talks about how the government needs to do our job for us. Maybe it’s time we talked about insurance companies and whether or not things are out of control. Maybe it’s time we talked about the issue of lawsuits and tort reform and the anxiety of being a doctor expected to be perfect at every turn.
Maybe it’s time to do more than jump on a bandwagon. Maybe it’s time to lead the train.
[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
What if that’s true? What if Jesus expects his church to pick up the mantle and continue his mission and ministry? I’m just asking the question.
Holy high five to you, Mike.