there seems to be quite the discussion these days over healthcare reform in our country. and thats all well and good…while i sometimes struggle over my opinion of how much government should be involved in the lives of the people it governs, what role they should play…i do not struggle over my opinion and firm belief in what role the Church, the body of Christ, should have in all spheres of life — not just healthcare.
i was reading ron sider again today and he reminded me of a story i had read before…He tells about the frustration one ancient Roman Caesar experienced during his reign. The Caesar was Julian the Apostate. He came after Constantine had established Christianity as the national religion of the Roman Empire. It was his goal to remove Christianity from its place of religious centrality in the Roman Empire and restore the pagan worship of the ancient Roman gods. He was not successful in his attempts (he only reigned for like a year and a half). In his frustration he said this about the Christians:
These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agape (the agape love of God that is), they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes. Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods…Those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.”
Interesting…wouldn’t you say? Especially that last sentence…As the head of the state, he was acknowledging that the state had failed to provide something for its citizens that it ought to provide. I’m not sure what help he was referring to, but I don’t think it matters. He was acknowledging that these “impious Galileans” — the Christians — were so good at providing for the poor that his efforts were no match for them. Of course he says that the compassion of the Christians is false and that they were attracting people by offering them cakes…whatever, he was just mad.
Here’s the point: The Roman government was not providing for poor people.
The Church did.
My solution for the healthcare crisis in America: the Church has plenty of cash…plenty of it…so if the government isn’t helping people, why don’t we do it? of course, i’d say nearly everyone who happens to read this will think how naive an idea this is, how idealistic it sounds…that I should start living in the real world. I am living in the real world, only its not real. I would encourage those who think I’m overly naive or idealistic to live by faith and not by sight. As Henri Nouwen said, in speaking about prayer, “…prayer leads us from a world of false certainties to a world true uncertainties”. The real world is only real in as much as it has received the new life of Christ — or rather, it is real only in as much as the people of Christ, the Church, the salt and light of the world, the bearers of Light offer the new life of Christ to it. We are missing an incredible opportunity to shower the world in the grace and mercy of God through our generosity and reliance of our Lord, who is Provider and the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills.
I mean do we really have the necessary funds to even address this “ambitious” goal? Here’s some info from http://www.emptytomb.org to help you see the big picture…
As described in our research, church member giving is declining as a portion of income, and is currently around 2.55%. The figure below shows what could happen if giving went up to an average of 10%.
If Americans who identify with the historically Christian church increased their giving to an average of 10% of income, there could be an additional $170 billion given to the church.1 If 60% of this amount were made available to expand overseas missions activity, that number would mean an additional $102 billion available for overseas missions.
One source estimates that $70-$80 billion would impact the worst of world poverty2 and $5 billion could end most of the 9.7 million under-5, global, annual child deaths3. Also, $7 billion would be sufficient for global primary education for all children.4 One billion would address the costs of global evangelization, according to one estimate.5
You should be aware, that there could also be $34.0 billion more a year for domestic outreach.6 And this all on top of our current church activities.
So…how much is the healthcare bill in America? In 2008, it was $3.14 trillion…yowzers. But that is for everybody… So maybe we can’t provide healthcare for everyone, but i’d bet we could help a few who have no healthcare.
What do we need? organization and a faith that speaks to our everyday lives. right belief…followed by right practice. loving God and in obedience to Him, loving others.