Faithlink Discussion: Finding Common Ground on Health-Care Reform
by Jacob Juncker
Some resonating quotes for me this week:
Reflecting on the deep divide over the bill’s passage, Kara Oliver, a United Methodist missionary in Malawi, asks, “How can citizens who love their country so much that they put the flag in their church sanctuaries be so hostile about providing the citizens of that same nation equal health care? What national ideals do we worship so fervently that are in such violent conflict with the health of individuals who make up that nation?”
Christians who argue against the health-care bill quote many of the same Scripture passages as those who are for it. However, many opponents passionately believe that the Scriptures affirm that it is precisey the job of the church and not the government to care for the sick and the dying. Last October, a commentator on United Methodist pastor John Meunier’s blog referred to the parable of the good Samaritan when he stated, “I believe that the Bible is telling us as individuals to be the Samaritan. Using tax dollars to provide for the sick and poor is like the Samaritan just writing a check to the Levite and telling him to handle it as he sees fit.”
If you have questions about what the United Methodist Church has to say about Health-care, I invite you to see my previous post. It contains links to the official social statement and theological principles approved by General Conference (the only body that can speak for the entire denomination) about health-care for all.
As I was reading this week’s Faithlink, I couldn’t help but think that the solution to the health-care debate, for Christians, is one of stewardship not of politics. In fact, I think, that if we are to truly usher in the Kingdom of God, we are going to have to become better stewards. Then, debates about health-care and other political issues would be tempered by the actions of Christ, because the church–the body of Christ active in the world today–would be serving the needs of the sick, impoverished and the outcast: the church would be living into the Kingdom and achieiving Christ’s mission in the world.
Case in point: follow the math and correct me if I make a mistake. The church I serve has 788 members which represent roughly 460 unique households (info taken directly from our church database). The median household income in Tippecanoe County is $43,190 (from factfinder.census.gov). If every househould tithed at least ten percent, we, at the church I serve, would be able to fund a budget of $1,986,740. Our current budget stands at about $634,000 (at least one-third our potential) of which we have not received enough giving to sustain the entire budget.
While I know the odds of getting every member in the church to tithe is quite low; I can’t help but think of all the good we could do, if we all truly tithed ten percent or more of our income. I wonder, if we would even be having this discussion about health-care. The church I servce could help countless thousands if every member tithed. We could pay for the outrageous health bills people receive and cannot pay themselves. We could provide a meal every single night of the week to hundreds of people. We could provide free health screenings and wellness programs. We could provide free spiritual resources, including counseling and support groups. I have no doubt that if we all tithed and kept our focus on the mission of Christ that we could begin to usher in the Kingdom of God in amazing ways at the corner of 18th and 350 S. (Veteran’s Memorial Parkway).
Can you imagine what it would be like if all 8 million United Methodists in America tithed? or the 12.1 million United Methodists in the world? the estimated 2.1 billion Christians worldwide? Can you imagine the resources we would have at our disposal to proclaim the gospel, heal the sick, comfort the lonely, and rejoice with the joyous?
I don’t believe that we should rely upon the government to fix all our problems: even health-care. I am one who believes the church, through what it does and how it acts, is called to usher in the Kingdom of God–I don’t see that through this health-care reform bill. I don’t see the Kingdom of God being ushered in by any governmental structure…it will happen, I believe, if the Church is faithful: especially in its giving and stewardship.