“What is the Christian response to healthcare reform?”
Facebook & Twitter are great for those kind of trap questions, aren’t they?
An incredibly complex topic (does anyone really know all the ramifications of reforming or not reforming?) about a controversial American bill (does anyone really know everything that is in this thing?) and you’ve got 140-characters to concisely explain the Bible’s definitive view (does anyone really know what 1st century Jesus & his disciples would actually think about 21st century American healthcare?) on something you’re really not sure about. Hahaha… classic.
And yet, I’ve found myself answering this and a bunch of similar questions online a lot this week. Really, they are the questions I’ve been asking in my head too, struggling to formulate an opinion. Questions like:
“What is the Christian view of healthcare reform?”
I’ve read literally dozens of articles and blogs in recent days seeking to answer this very question. Some people say that when Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” that he had this type of idea in mind: a society that progresses and values those who have more giving to those who have less. Jesus, they say, would be all for this type of bill.
Other people use the same quote from Jesus to explain that he meant uncoerced, self-sacrificial love, not compelled assistance of those around us. Jesus, they say, was not discussing government intervention, but individual generosity. Clearly, Jesus would be against this type of bill.
“What would Jesus say about healthcare reform?”
He’d love it! He’d hate it! He compels us to support it! He demands we reject it! The views out there are strong, compelling and fairly exhaustive.
I can literally scroll through the newsfeed on Facebook and place people into their camp. I read status updates like:
“healthcare reform is a sign of the end times.”
“win for Jesus, as healthcare reform passes.”
“I’m moving to Canada…wait… ughhhh”
“should we rename Reagan International Airport after Obama or Pelosi?”
I mean, who needs a USAToday poll about what people think when I can just read it on Twitter?
Now, of course, everyone’s got an opinion. I myself have an opinion. But, it turns out that Jesus has the same opinion we do too. Whether we are pro-reform bill or anti-reform bill, it appears that Jesus is too. We quote Jesus and explain our correct theology and justify why Jesus is on our side and not on the other. But the reality is, either Jesus has gone schizophrenic or we have. And one way or the other, God has some serious mental illness in his family.
“What do YOU think about healthcare reform?”
Maybe that’s a better question. I’m not trying to ride the fence here and take the easy way out. I’m not gonna say I think both sides are right and try and appease everyone. I definitely have an opinion on this topic (however ill-informed it may be). But, let me just OWN it. It’s my opinion. I don’t know what Jesus thinks. My politics aren’t necessarily Jesus’ politics.
I formulate opinions based off what I believe to be true about Jesus, but as with many things in life, I operate out of faith and in environments where I don’t see clearly. I stumble through decisions and opinions, praying they reflect Jesus heart, but sometimes unsure; many times evolving and changing as I learn and grow.
“What does Nick think, right now, about healthcare reform?”
I’m in favor of this healthcare reform. I think its good for a whole lot of reasons that many other people have at great length explained. But, I’m not writing this to convince you to agree with me or to argue that Jesus does. In fact, I’m hesitant to say what I really think for fear it will come across that way. I’m only saying what I think to show I’m not neutral. I have an opinion.
But, it’s MY opinion. I don’t speak for Jesus when it comes to politics. No one does.
Does Jesus have a strong opinion about healthcare reform? Maybe. But, he hasn’t ever told it to me. I have absolutely zero words from Jesus (in the Bible or audible discussion) addressing the specific topic of the American healthcare system in 2010. Everything I think and endorse in this arena is at best my limited view of what I “think” Jesus would approve of, and I’m completely open to thinking that possibly Jesus doesn’t really care one way or the other.
“So, Jesus isn’t on either side?”
Actually, I think it is a bit more profound than that. Jesus is on BOTH sides.
As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed I see many good people that I call “friends” outside a computer screen who deeply love and try to follow Jesus. And as I divide them into their pro and anti reform bill categories, it occurs to me that I don’t have the market on Jesus any more than they do.
My anti-reform bill friends are trying their best in their experiential framework of life to reflect Jesus in the same way that I am with my framework. We both agree that Jesus says, “Love your neighbors as yourself,” we just have different conclusions about what that looks like in Seattle, Washington in 2010.
When I claim Jesus is on my side, I’m right. But so are they.
Will we ever agree on American politics? Probably not. But maybe we don’t need too. Maybe we just don’t need to make Jesus agree with us either.