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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Health care and healthy living

I went to an event last evening on why our health care in this country is not working. Let us be clear about what is not working...that's the problem, isn't it? Everybody has complaints about the "system" but nobody knows what the problem is. Doctors believe it is too much regulation and bureacracy (probably right), patients believe it is too much waiting around and inattention and certainly bureacracy...and the people who provide the products fear of losing money when the patents run out...

Last night's speaker believes that eliminating government from the health care equation will solve most of the problems...and as a theologian I think he is not going to be happy if he gets his way...because the problem with health care in the USA is not "government," the problem is money. There is a reason the Christian church has in its canon the line "the love of money is the root of all evil." When there are problems with health care in this country it is because people (patients, doctors, bureaucrats, etc.) love money more than health.

What I heard from the speaker last night was not how to fix "health care" but how to "finance" health care equitably (which is surely a good thing if health care is about money). But-and this is key--the Christian church has a bit of ambiguity in this area. There are tens of stories of Jesus of Nazareth providing health care, but there is no story about him getting paid for it. Whether his patients were rich or poor, not once do we have Jesus getting a check for his work...although a dinner and bed was probably thrown into the deal. If we were to draw conclusions about health care using Jesus of Nazareth as our guide we would be left with two:
1) it takes God to heal
2) it's free
Now, most health care folks would agree with #1 because they've seen that in action. The mystery of life amazes, and whether one posits a creator or not, it is amazing the even a simple paper cut heals on its own...

It's #2 (as usual) that is harder to pass...For some reason we believe health care should cost money like buying a chair or a socket wrench...My goal is to die before I have to use our health care system...and it is not because I do not "like" our health care system--but rather I wish to live as long as possible in whatever health I have. I can't eat foods I used to be able to eat, I cannot move as fast as I once did (which was never very fast anyhow), I ache more, and I need more rest. But healthy living at 50 is not the same as it was when I was 20. Health changes, just like everything else...

As a pastor I have seen lives extended and nurtured by health care, including my own children and wife, my own family and countless friends...and there is huge cost involved and I am blessed to be able to celebrate their lives...but we have another line in our scripture too: "What does it profit you to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?" Healthy living isn't always possible and for many they never had a chance...but I will say this whatever health they have, whatever living they have is as valuable as anything the health care system fixes, repairs, or palliates...healthy living isn't defined by your body in the Christian church-it's defined by your faith in God, your neighbor, and yourself...and that's why Jesus could heal for free...it was never about the money--it was always about God.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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