I am no policy geek, and I’m certainly no policy guru, so I will not go into the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. I will lament that the law itself is so complicated that when either side offers a five-second sound bite or sensational headline about what it will or won’t mean for the American people, it is difficult for the average American person to determine whether or not said sound bite or headline is true.
I am not advocating or denouncing the current policy. I will say that, whether you are celebrating or lamenting this decision, Christians have an obligation to work together — not as conservatives or liberals—but as followers of Jesus Christ, the Gentle Healer, to make sure that all people have access to health care. Our concern today should not be whether or not “our side” won or lost, but whether or not people, particularly the most vulnerable among us, are going to have access to health care.
Jesus healed the poor and the marginalized. He healed the young and the old and those with pre-existing conditions. He healed loose women and foreigners with questionable citizenship status. And since the prevailing wisdom of the time was that illness was brought about by sin (either of the person or his/her parents), Jesus even healed those whose actions presumably caused their condition. Jesus was always doling out healing and love and grace to people who certainly hadn’t earned it and even to those who definitely didn’t deserve it.
The guy who told us to quite literally give the coat off our backs to anyone who doesn’t have one and to give all of our money away to the poor probably has little patience for the folks who say they don’t want to pay health care costs for those who can’t afford it. The Jesus who never once shouted “Every man for himself!” probably does not understand why the first question on everyone’s lips when it comes to health care reform is “What about me?”
We all want comprehensive, affordable health care for everyone—as long as it doesn’t cost us more money or inconvenience us in any way. Jesus never promised us that a life in Christ would be financially lucrative or trouble-free. In fact, I’m pretty sure he said just the opposite.
No matter what our party affiliation or political leanings, Christians have to be about healing. Healing those who do not have adequate access to care. Healing those who are hurt by being left out of the conversation. Healing a nation badly damaged by the rise of partisanship. Perhaps as Christians, if we stop thinking in terms of policy and politics and concentrate our efforts on working toward healing and wholeness, we can provide the kind of care our country so desperately needs right now.
The Rev. Anne Russ is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of North Little Rock. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.