After this week’s Supreme Court decision to uphold Obama’s healthcare law and the ensuing reaction on social media, I thought it might helpful to repost this article I wrote on March 22, 2010 just after the health care bill originally passed.
Like many Americans, I anxiously watched last night as Congress officially passed a bill that will overhaul the American health care system and cost an estimated $1 trillion dollars over the next ten years. As someone who is neither Republican nor Democrat, I found myself wrestling with a number of mixed feelings about this monumental event and naturally wondered what it might mean for my wife and I and our two girls in the future. I even wondered what it would mean for their kids someday.
I was unprepared, however, for the cyber onslaught that has since been unleashed by so many well intentioned, but justifiably angry republican Christians. I understand why many are upset. I share many of their concerns. But what struck me most was not their feelings of frustration or their disagreement with this huge decision that will directly affect most of our lives, but their use of spiritual and even Christian language to support and defend their political position.
That bothers me.
Perhaps we’d do well to keep in mind that God used Joseph to institute a highly controlled, big government program in Egypt to save the lives of thousands upon thousands. I’m not suggesting a direct parallel or that Obama is God’s instrument in a similar way today. But I am suggesting that we get honest about the fact that our cherished red-white-and-blue democracy is not a biblical mandate for governing a nation (or a church, for that matter). Be careful not to blur the lines between religion and politics, it is a lethal combination.
I think we would do well to hold in tension two realities:
1, it is not outside the realm of possibility that in the future God could choose to use something as bureaucratic and self-serving as big government to bring about good, just as he did in Joseph’s time. I am NOT suggesting that this is what is happening right now. But I can promise you that God is far more concerned with the health and survival of the poor and suffering than the taxation of America’s middle class (which by the way, represents one of the wealthiest segments of people on earth). Even if God has had nothing to do with the happenings in DC, that will always remain true. And although I personally probably wouldn’t have voted for this bill and am more than a little anxious about what all this might mean in the future, I rejoice over what this could mean for those who could not otherwise afford healthcare, particularly the urban poor and terminally ill.
2, more importantly, we need to turn to the wisdom of the scriptures that urges us over and over to not put our trust in those who hold power. Consider the words of Psalm 118:8-9: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” If you find yourself either suddenly inspired with great hope for the future or outraged that this could happen in our nation, you may be placing too much hope in the wrong thing. Jesus is the one and only true hope for humanity, the only one that will never fail us.
I’ll admit that this whole thing scares me too. I worry about what it might mean over the next twenty years for our country and for my family. I worry about what it might mean for my kids and theirs. But God is bigger than governments and he has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. No matter what the future holds, He will always take care of us. And you know, perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing for us to be reminded every now and then that we really aren’t as in control of our lives as we’d like to think we are.
My last word is for the leaders out there.
Last night I hopped online to find a frenzy of angry tweets and facebook statuses from pastors and spiritual leaders all over the country. Friends, please remember that your influence is no small thing. As leaders, your words are like a virus. For better or worse, they affect everyone around you. In times of anxiety and crisis, that influence multiplies as others look to you for clarity and direction. My question to you is this: what are you spreading? Are you acting as a voice of love and hope in this time of monumental change in which many are anxious and afraid? Or in your venting are you unintentionally spreading anger and cynicism to those around you, adding to their fear and unsettledness?
I urge you, my friends, to choose hope. Not hope in government or politicians or your own fiscal outlook for 2011 and beyond, but hope in Jesus. Look for your peace there. And help those around you to do the same.