Ok I need to get this off my chest, and it may unsettle some of you, but I feel the need to say it.
Apparently I am not alone in hating this healthcare bill that Obama and his friends in Congress "shoved down the American throat" last week. Not only b/c it equals bigger government interference in our lives, but b/c the way they went about it was shady and seemed to undermine the process of passing legislation. And if polls and blogs are an indicator of the country's pulse, I would say the overwhelming majority of average Americans are not happy about it.
But I'm not really here to blog about healthcare. I don't know anything that bill. I didn't read it, didn't study it, didn't participate in some research panel of doctors who commented on it, didn't even really watch the news all that much. And I couldn't tell you exactly how it will impact me or when that impact will hit me. Do I care? Yes, I do. I think we all care when our bottom line is possibly affected, or when a system is about to change and we don't know what that means to us personally. But at the end of the day, when that bill was signed into the law books, my American way-of-life didn't just up and die, as some popular conservative commentators said it would. In fact, my day went on like any other normal day, my way-of-life and values still in place. Yes, I realize there are bigger issues and principles that this leans toward--the downward slope toward socializing programs--and I get that. I really do. But there is more here...
I guess I'm saying all of this b/c I've been annoyed--and even embarrassed--at some response from the conservative, Christian right who have talked up this healthcare bill so much, to the point of basically painting Nancy Pelosi and Obama as the anti-Christ. Somehow protecting our freedoms became equated w/ a spiritual uprising. It's as though the Republican, conservative agenda has been turned into the Christian agenda, and vice versa. Preserving our freedoms, then, becomes the Christian mantra, and government becomes the evil one that we must fight and protect ourselves against. And I just cannot go there.
Now I haven't heard anyone actually use these words, but the feeling is there, the feeling that as Christians we are to rise up and protect our freedoms, as though God Himself wrote the American Constitution and therefore we live and die by it. Am I saying we throw out the Constitution or ignore it and allow our government to breach it? NEVER! (I took two great courses in college on the Constitution b/c I think it is both precious and worth protecting.) But I am saying that this undercurrent in conservative Christian circles that our most important goal is to preserve our nation and our Constitution--and all that goes w/ that, such as our personal freedoms--is not scripturally based. If Jesus were walking the earth right now, would he join the Republican party? Would he be joining these Tea Parties and protesting big government? I doubt it. Jesus lived in a much more politically hostile world than ours, w/ Rome controlling most of the known world, and HIs followers believed he had come to rescue them from Rome's tyranny. But Jesus never went there; in fact when asked a politically-charged question about taxes, Jesus said, "Give to Caeser what is Caesars." Why? Because Jesus had another agenda, a bigger agenda. He never took up the political torch. HIs mission was to change people, not political systems.
Do I think, then, that we should stay out of politics, not be involved or informed, not vote? NO! Unlike Jesus' day, we live in a country blessed w/ personal freedoms and responsibilities. We have opportunities to speak out, to voice our opinions and ideas, to elect our congressman and leaders, privileges they did not have in the Roman Empire of AD 30. We should certainly take our responsibilities seriously and vote our conscience and be involved and proactive where God leads us. Many Christians enter politics to effect change, and that is both noble and needed, especially in the times of our day.
But it seems to be a slippery slope of another kind for Christians to become so politically minded, so 21st century American-minded, that they come to think that God's whole agenda is wrapped up in American politics. Does God care, and is He working in our White House and Congress? Absolutely. But His agenda reaches far beyond our Capital and the shores of our great country, and I think we do a disservice to His kingdom to limit God's scope and superimpose our agenda onto His.
Are you fired up about healthcare? Great! Then find an outlet, a way to be proactively effecting positive change where you are, instead of just ranting against the system. Maybe join a ministry that drives seniors to doctor appointments. Or deliver meals to seniors in Meals-on-Wheels. Or volunteer at a local children's hospital.
I realize I'm simplifying things; there's a lot more between the lines of this whole issue, much that I admit is beyond my understanding. But we need to be very careful--of how our worldview is molded by the media (including the conservative media), of how we think of our political leaders who God put into office (according to Daniel 2 and Romans 13), of how we show them respect or disrespect, of how we impact our miniscule window of the world. Isn't that what Jesus would do? Minister to the people right next door. Change the world one person at a time, one attitude at a time, one selfless act at a time. Else we become what Paul describes as "a noisy gong or clanging cymbal" (1 Cor 13), speaking without love.