Waiting for Something Important to Come Along

I was speaking with a young person the other day, and the issue of healthcare came up.  She rolled her eyes, blew out her lips, and said, “Why are we wasting so much time talking about healthcare?  Why don’t we do something really important?”  My response was, “What’s more important than health?”  She said, “Well I’m fine, and so are all my friends.  People think too much about problems.  We should be more positive.”

Looking at this young, robust, healthy adult, I realize once more how contextual and personal our opinions are.  For me, there is no question of the importance of health care.  I believe everyone should have it, no matter what.  I believe it is a civil as well as spiritual and cultural issue, and I am befuddled by arguments based on who “deserves” care.  I also hate it when it is reduced to an economic issue.  Or a “big government” issue.  Or an insurance corruption issue.  Or any other issue than that we have the means and methods to care for everyone, but we lack with will, the compassion, and the desire.  I find it remarkable that the United States leads the world in so many other areas, but when it comes to taking care of her own the U.S. is a dismal failure.  Watch this video.  I love it, and I hope that regardless of your political leanings you can find both entertainment and value in it:

Who doesn’t deserve care?  This is a huge question for me.  In fact, it is the question that keeps getting lost in all the posturing and pontificating.  I tuned into a couple of the town hall meetings and was disgusted by the amount of selfish, fear-drenched opposition based in misinformation and political fabrication.  I acknowledge that the fear is real, but it is fear of the wrong things.  Fear of losing what we have so that those without might have some is misplaced fear.  (Yeah, it’s an awkward sentence, but it says what I mean…)  Fear of being taken over by “big government” isn’t a legitimate fear, either.  Fear of not having enough should actually make us more sensitive to the plight of the poor, not less.  No, the real fear for me is the crystallization of a society based on competition, factionalization, privilege, entitlement, and selfishness.  I’m afraid that civility, compassion, community, and kindness are endangered species.  I fear that trust, respect, generosity and common decency are being replaced by anxiety, secrecy, stinginess, and Joe Wilson-like rude antagonism.  My great fear is that Jesus has left the building — that Christians have decided they don’t have to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” when it might cost them a few dollars or a small measure of inconvenience.

It would be different if this were a problem too big to solve.  But it’s not.  The inability to create a universal health care system is one of will, not resources.  The bright and talented men and women serving our country in Washington have more than enough smarts to make this work.  But as one of my Republican friends commented to me, “If this happens it will be a disaster.  It will send the message that Democrats are problem solvers, and it will make Republicans look bad.”  Finding a solution to make everyone look good isn’t even on the table.  We can only think in terms of winners and losers, not partners.

How can we come together to make the world a better place?  United Methodists have made global healthcare one of their four primary focus ministries.  How can we not be involved in this discussion?  No, I don’t mean Church and Society or our Council of Bishops.  I mean every Annual Conference and every local congregation.  The United Methodist Church en masse should be writing letters, emails, making phone calls, and volunteering to work for healthcare reform.  Okay, perhaps the current proposals aren’t great.  They won’t get better if everybody just takes their respective balls and goes home. 

What are we waiting for?  Something more important to come along?  It may not matter what comes along in the future if we can’t learn to take better care of each other now.  And the “each other” I am talking about isn’t just family and friends, neighbors and congregations.  I am talking about the poor, the marginalized, the ostracized, the oppressed, the lost, the suffering, and the victims.  I’m talking about our brothers and sisters.  I’m talking about the Christ, for what we are willing to share with the least of these is what we are willing to share with Jesus.

Categories: Core Values, U.S. Culture

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3 replies

  1. I couldn’t help but take your advice and reflect for a few moments on if the Church has left the building and that we are no longer asking “What would Jesus do?”

    As I have searched Scripture, I believe that Christ calls us–The Church–to care for the least and lost. All of those healings that He did were of His own working and not because he launched a letter writing campaign to the Roman Government. As hard times fell on the Church in Jerusalem, Paul raised funds from the other members in the Body of Christ in order to support the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. He didn’t organize marches and admonish the government to take care of the citizens.

    As the Church continues to give away it’s responsibility and calling to actually “BE” the Body of Christ, we will look more and more like the world with all of it’s organizations and fail to be the Salt and Light that is so different that people seek us out.

  2. Ok, on the lighter side, this is rapidly becoming my favorite video. I am cranking it in my office and singing, “We’re Number 37!” (Nothing against the number itself, I mean it IS a PRIME number.)

    I preached this theme a few weeks ago and said we were 37 just before Slovenia ot something and someone asked me where I got my figures. So I say, ‘the world health organization.’ They did not think w.h.o was credible. 🙂

    Thanks for the grin. Look for “We’re Number 37” coming to Waukesha as an anthem soon. 🙂

  3. Politics… blech!
    If our country had created a program when it was first proposed by President Truman none of this would be going on now. As Christians we ARE called to “care for the least of these.” However when a certain branch of Christianity decided to wrap themselves in the American flag and equate being a Christ follower with Americanism the chance for a real discussion about topics such as this from a religious viewpoint became moot. There is often a hidden agenda.

    Many local churches are trying to meet the needs of our poor but, as is the case now where I’m serving, the congregation members are coming in with needs as great (or greater) as those we’ve been serving all along. How do we use what few resources we may have to help all in need? The days of the agrarian society which was America are long gone. This was what helped the church of the Great Depression care for those in need. People were able to bring in food to share with those in want, and the potluck supper became synonymous with a church gathering. When your members aren’t planting a crop, or would even know how to, how do you feed those hungry? Let alone find a way to clothe, house, or provide health care. When they’re out of work with no savings, and the church has limited funds, how should we minister?

    The church can do great things, but it will take a sea change in the attitude of our membership about what it truly means to be called “Christian.”


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