Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Health, Healthcare, Health Insurance, and Jesus





Health care and health insurance continues to be a top news item and a top political issue.  This should not be surprising.  Sickness and disease have been right near the top of our most difficult problems throughout human history. When it comes to this topic there are some things I don’t know and some things I do.

What I Don’t Know

The current debate relates to the Republican’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a.  “Obamacare”).  The issues are numerous and complex:

On the one hand, I know people who have been hurt financially by large increases in their insurance premiums since the implementation of the ACA.
On the other hand, my own family, and many others like us, have been helped by significant subsidies from the ACA.

On the one hand, there is nothing inherently wrong with government seeking to help low income families be able to afford health care.
On the other hand, government involvement often makes social and economic issues worse, and there is a lot to be said for the principles of small, limited government and minimal government regulations and control.

On the one hand, taxing those who have more to help those who have less is a compassionate idea.
On the other hand, increased taxes place additional burdens on businesses and can hamper growth.

You could think of many more complexities.  I honestly do not know if the Republicans are on the right track or not. (Thirty years ago I would have known the answer to this issue with enthusiastic certainty, but then again, thirty years ago I knew everything 😉 !)

This may seem like a pretty useless blog post so far.  But hold on!  By God’s grace there are still some important truths related to this issue of which I am humbly confident.

Seven Things I Do Know Related to Healthcare and Sickness

1.  Caring for the sick has always been a part of Christian ministry.

Healing was a huge part of the ministry of Jesus (see Matthew 4:23 as an example of the approximately 67 verses with some form of the word “heal” found in the four gospels).  Healing continued to be a vital part of the ministry of the followers of Jesus after He ascended (see Acts 5:16).  Throughout the history of the Church, God’s people have continue to pray for and care for the sick.

2.  Health insurance is not the same as health care which is not the same as health.

In the current debate, don’t forget these simple facts:

Health insurance is not the same as health care.  Health care happened long before health insurance was invented, and there is still much health care that does not involve or require insurance.  This does not mean that insurance is not good or important, only that it is not the core issue.

Health care is not the same as health.  Of course, through health care God often graciously restores us to good health.  Still, health care is only a means to the goal, namely good health.

3.  Sin brings sickness.

We should never simply assume that a given person’s sickness is a result of their sin (John 9:3).

Nevertheless, in general, sin brings sickness.  More sin means more sickness.  This truth can be seen in many ways.

First, it is well documented that many sins increase the likelihood of disease.  Examples are numerous and include:

Smoking.
Alcohol and drug abuse.
Lack of self-control resulting in obesity, which many believe has surpassed smoking as the largest life style cause of sickness and disease.
Sexual immorality.

Although less easy to document, the emotions of guilt, fear, shame, anger, and worry increase as sin separates people from God.  These emotions all affect our bodies in negative ways.  The peace and joy which flow from abiding in Christ bring increased health.

Besides these factors, God specifically warned His people that if they persisted in sin He would bring many diseases on them (see Deuteronomy 28:21).  While this warning was given specifically to Israel, it seems likely that the same principle holds true today.

I am convinced that if we experienced a significant reduction in sin, health would improve so much that Obamacare would work, or the Republican plan would work, or just about any health care system would work, and work far better than what we have now.  But reducing sin is no simple matter.

4.  Only abiding in Christ can overcome sin.

Apart from Christ, we are powerless to reduce sin.  You might as was well try to drain the oceans.  Apart from Christ, we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:6).  Praise God, through Christ we can be set free from the power of sin (Romans 6:14).

5.  We need a spiritual awakening.

By a spiritual awakening, I mean a mighty move of the Holy Spirit which results in a whole lot of people loving Jesus a whole lot more.  This will include many people putting their faith in Jesus and becoming part of God’s family.  It will also include many backslidden Christians repenting of sins which have no place in their lives.  Also, many will be called into new areas of ministry and service and empowered by God.  All of this will result in less sin, and more love for our neighbors and for God.  A happy side effect will be better health.

6.  With God’s help we should do those things which lead to spiritual awakening.

In light of the above truths, we should do those things which God often uses to prepare the way for and bring spiritual awakening.  Specifically, we should:

pray in our prayer closets, give, pray with others, serve, pray in the morning, use our spiritual gifts, pray at night, meditate on God’s Word, pray with fasting, attend church, pray without ceasing, share the Good News about Jesus ,and keep praying!

7.  The ultimate solution to sickness awaits those in Christ.

While a spiritual awakening would lead to more people loving and trusting Jesus a lot more and that would lead to less sickness, I do not expect sickness and disease to go away in this age.  That is why even as we care for the sick and seek good health for ourselves and our neighbors, we should always keep our focus on eternity, where the hopes and desires of all who have persevered in Christ will be fulfilled:

Revelation 21:4 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
                                                      
Concluding Thoughts

I might be accused of being one of those people who believe that Jesus is the answer to everything.  I plead guilty!

But I don’t believe this in a simplistic way.  The healthcare debate occurring in our nation is important.  Some policies will work far better than others.  So by all means, pray for our leaders.  And some of you probably understand the policy issues in more depth and more clearly than I do.  We need people like you.  Just remember that health insurance is not health care, and health care is not good health, and good health is ruined by sin, and we can overcome sin only in Christ, and a lot more people need Christ, so we need a revival. So pray!
                                 



Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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