Thursday, September 3, 2009

Whoa, I seem to have struck a nerve

Oh how I love challenging conversations, even disagreements! Scriptures says, “Come, let us reason together,” and it is through this challenging reasoning that we grow and come to see other perspectives outside of our own. Thank you for engaging in that. Also, I now know how to get comments on a blog; Challenge you with an idea you don’t like. You don’t have to like it or even agree with me, but as long as we can engage in the conversation, there is hope for us as a body of Christ. It’s good to know that someone out there is reading along, even if I just lost some. There were some very good points that were brought out in the comments that I would really like to address.

The phrase “sense of entitlement” was used. It’s a very interesting phrase and very appropriate for this culture. You see it more and more in the upcoming generation as they demand their cell phones and video games, insisting that they just can’t do without these modern amenities. Well, we know that’s not true and even in my own generation, we remember life before all our gadgets and toys. But more and more it is harder to say no to these things. It is a sense of entitlement and it’s incredibly dangerous.

Did government really create that, though? Or was it born out of capitalism in general? Isn’t that the fueling wind of capitalism? I deserve it all? The entire American dream is based on this sense of entitlement. When the system of credit cards were introduced post World War 2, it was based on a sense of entitlement. I deserve a better life and I’ll just pay for it later. The feminine movement was based on entitlement. “I am woman; hear me roar!” I can do it all and have it all, and I don’t have to wear a bra to do it! There is a well-known gospel that is still being preached in countless churches across the nation known as the “Health and Wealth Gospel” that thrives on this sense of entitlement. “Come to Jesus and everything will be just fine!”

It seems like a bit of a scapegoat, though, to blame this sense of entitlement on government alone. The health and wealth gospel that riddled so many churches for so many years propelled Christianity into a religion of gain and not give. Hoard and not sacrifice.

Even some of the comments left on the blog were in reference to saving up for rainy days, as if poverty is due to irresponsibility. If only I would save more responsibly or give up my cell phone, maybe we wouldn’t be in the position we are in today.

Who am I to hold on to anything, when my brothers and sisters are toiling endlessly for the sake of the gospel, and have nothing to eat? Who am I to tuck away $25 for a rainy day, when it’s pouring over there? How can I hoard the extra that we have left over, when our family abroad is attempting to feed the mouths of orphans and other families who lack even more? Everyday they pray for God to multiply the fish and bread just as Jesus did when He walked this earth, so that each mouth may receive even a little. And selfishly, we tuck it away for a rainy day.

It reminds me of the story of God providing manna for the Israelites in the desert. He told them to take just enough to get them through the day, for He would provide again tomorrow. Those who did not trust the Lord hoarded extra manna, but by morning it was rotten, full of maggots worming their way through the bread.

We stress the importance of saving for retirement, saving up for a rainy day, setting aside a portion so that we do not lack, and yet in our global disconnect, we have forgotten the toils of our brothers and sisters around the world who received not even one bite today. Our brothers and sisters in Kenya and Ethiopia are working tirelessly for the sake of the cross, setting up clinics, planting churches, seeing to the needs of the orphans, discipling new growth, and yet they have not received a paycheck in months, and what they do receive, they give away because surely there is someone who has less indeed. Those are your brothers and sisters as well. You just might not know their names.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that no one should save anything. I'm just trying to look at this conversation in the light of Scripture and put it all together.

I have not yet heard why people are so completely opposed to the public option for healthcare. I have heard fear, speculations, doubts, but nothing solid. They’re scared of losing their doctor? According to, this is what Obama said:

Obama, Aug. 15: [i]f you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health care plan. If you like your doctor, you keep seeing your doctor. I don’t want government bureaucrats meddling in your health care. But the point is, I don’t want insurance company bureaucrats meddling in your health care either.

Scared of losing your doctor? Try not having one at all. Like 46 million people across this nation. These are the selfish conveniences that I referred to in my previous post. I don’t want anyone else to have coverage because it might adversely affect my own coverage. Not that anyone would ever say that out loud (except for the woman sitting next to my father at the town hall meeting), but the implication is there. Sure, idealistically it would be great if everyone had coverage, but not at the expense of what I’ve got. Don’t mess with what’s mine.

Others protest the idea of government running healthcare, saying that they are incompetent. Just look at the mess of social security. Two thoughts on these statements: social security is a mess, but it has long outlived the intended plan for which it was created. The life expectancy when social security was created was only 55. Now the life expectancy is 85. That’s 30 years that the plan was not necessarily intended to cover. That plan needs to be revisited, revamped even, to make it more applicable and more relevant to the day and age we now live in.

Second thought is this: the government currently runs the VA medical system and Medicare. In 2008, Medicare was providing health care to 45.3 million elderly and disabled people across this nation. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, over 80% of those 45.3 million covered are quite satisfied with the care that they have received. I guarantee you that my father would trade his big, broken toe to have that coverage. It works, and has been working for 35 years. Has it been flawless from the beginning? Absolutely not. Has it needed to be revisited, tweaked, and revamped in portions? Absolutely. But it was a plan that was put on the table and put into action, now providing care to over 45.3 million.

I have heard, and even seen in these comments, folks saying how sad it makes them that others don’t have health insurance or access to health care. It is sad. But then they follow it up by saying that this plan that has been proposed is not the answer. They just aren’t sure this is the best way, and so for now, we'll do nothing. So my question is this: is it better to sit back on our heels and do nothing while we hem and haw about how this isn’t the best way forward? Or is it better to act on a good plan that has been laid out and be prepared to revise as better ideas are illuminated?

It reminds of the passage in James 2:14-17:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, “ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

I agree that it is prudent to carefully consider the options and consequences, but seriously, at some point you have to take a step. For those with coverage and those without, there is a much different sense of urgency. The system is thoroughly broken, from top to bottom. The prices for all things are in a cycle that is spiraling higher and higher. That’s why this overhaul is necessary.

I will stop there for now. This is a lot to mull over. In all things there is grace. In all things we remain bound by the blood of Christ. This conversation is an attempt to live it out, and encourage others in the same.

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  1. "The entire American dream is based on this sense of entitlement."

    I disagree. I think the American dream is based off the idea that hard work and gumption pays off... the opposite of entitlement.

    "...selfishly, we tuck it away for a rainy day."

    There are countless--literally--needs in this world. We must pick our battles. We must be wise in how we use our finances. It would be foolish to give away everything we have just because someone does not have it. That would solve nothing and destroy the things that God is doing through us. Unfortunately, this topic could take volumes to flesh out, so I'm leaving it at that.

    "Those who did not trust the Lord hoarded extra manna, but by morning it was rotten, full of maggots worming their way through the bread."

    Yes, but God gave enough for everyone. As you've stated above: Not everyone has enough. And that's why we have to try to figure out what we should do with the money God has entrusted to us.

    "We stress the importance of saving for retirement, saving up for a rainy day, setting aside a portion so that we do not lack..."

    And if we didn't, in a few years we would be the ones pulling from others.

    "I don’t want anyone else to have coverage because it might adversely affect my own coverage."

    So... I should say, instead: Since not everyone can have coverage, I will give up mine because someone else has needs? I realize that we are promised that with a new system we will all get coverage, but I haven't seen a single bit of math that backs that up. If someone can show that to me, sweet! Let's do it!

    "... social security...has long outlived the intended plan for which it was created."

    And I'm pretty sure that the current health insurance ideas are also sadly inadequate to cover this. Again, I haven't seen the math, the numbers, so I'm skeptical that it will begin to address the issues. I could be wrong--which would be great--but I'm missing that data.

    "Medicare was providing health care to [over 80% of] 45.3 million elderly and disabled people..."

    And, from yesterday: "'85% in this nation today have access to healthcare. Isn’t that enough?' Huh? Really?"

    So, yesterday you balked at the idea of an 85% success rate, but today you praise an 80%? That confuses me.

    And they aren't providing care for 43.5 million people, but rather 34.8 million. Again, the math doesn't make sense... Thoughts? What am I missing?

    "The system is thoroughly broken, from top to bottom."

    Agreed. That's why I don't believe that the current suggestions--with so much missing data despite their length and the number of words spilled in this discussion--is prudent or wise, but rather prone to creating more problems.

    And having even more people uninsured is not the goal.

    Just a couple thoughts off the top of my head. I could easily be missing vital information, so if you know of any, please let me know!

    Thanks for continuing to share your insights and observations.


  2. Luke,
    You have brought up very good points and I so appreciate the open discussion.
    You have misquoted me in one portion. It's not 80% of 45.3 million that are covered by Medicare. The number who was covered by medicare in 2007 was 45.3 million total. It is reported that over 80% of those 45.3 million who are covered are very satisfied with the care they receive from Medicare. Those numbers are according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ( It can be presumed that the remaining 20% on medicare are not fully satisfied with their care, but they are still receiving care nonetheless.

    "It would be foolish to give away everything we have just because someone does not have it."
    Are we not called to give away all that we have? Are we not called to take care of those and provide for those who do not have? I think that that discussion has many negotiables in it based on the Lord's individual leading. I believe that we have an incredible disconnect from the global Church, our global brothers and sisters in Christ, and as a result there is much hoarding of resources when they should be passed along. Maybe that's just my heart love for those who are struggling in the rest of the world.

    "So... I should say, instead: Since not everyone can have coverage, I will give up mine because someone else has needs?"

    No one is asking anyone to give up their coverage. It has been stated repeatedly that those with health care coverage who are happy with it don't have to change. Some are concerned that the quality of their coverage will go down because others are now receiving coverage. That frustrates me, that the humanity in us would not be willing to submit some for the sake of building up for others. But I'm going to go one step further on that. Aren't we called to make sacrifices for the sake of the gospel? Are we not called to be willing to give it all away for the sake of the cross? As I have been told, God takes care of the sparrows and will surely take care of us. Well, admittedly, that verse is much easier to swallow and rest in with health insurance, but then I am challenged in my heart if that is truly depending on God or depending on my health insurance and doctors to care for me. Those are tough questions as a follower of Christ.

    There is more to address, but mommy duties call.

  3. Shauna,
    Thank you for your blog. As a Christian, I have felt so frustrated with the behavior of many Americans in recent months. Were we not told by Jesus to leave everything behind and follow him? Become more like him? Show the world his grace and compassion? I understand and agree that we should be wary of our government and it's level of "control" over our daily lives. But I feel so strongly that every human being on this earth has the right to be healed from their sickness. And more importantly the right to know what they can do to prevent illness. We are the wealthiest nation in the world and yet millions of our citizens cannot afford to go to the doctor. We pride ourselves for our inovative surgeries and diagnostic abilities, yet we fail to provide basic preventative care and education to our children. Like you said, sitting here waiting for a magical solution to arise is not going to help those who are desperate for assistance right now. I hope Jesus will wrap his loving arms around this nation and change our selfish hearts.

    Sorry that was long winded! Miss you and enjoy reading your blogs.

    Amanda L.

  4. Amanda,
    I too miss you! and I love your passion. You are very right in what you have said, and I could not agree with you more. One of the things that I have found incredibly interesting is that many of those who are working in the healthcare field are in favor of healthcare reform. We went into healthcare to see people healed, to see those who cannot help themselves get help. So in that light, healthcare reform is obvious. But as Christians, our calling is higher still. My heart has been pondering the ways of the early Church a lot lately, and how anyone who had anything would sell all they had and give it all to the church for the good of the whole. They neglect the needs and desires of one so that the whole is taken care of. It seems these days that is labeled communism. haha.
    I guess the truth of the matter here is the government is trying to take up the job of the church because the church has neglected its responsibility for so long. What is the church were to take up that mantle, though? Those are the thoughts that are rattling my mind.

  5. it is refreshing to hear a thoughtful and compassionate christian perspective on health care reform as something we need to actively move forward on instead of angrily decrying all options as imperfect/socialist and stagnating in the status quo. it is absolutely maddening (but certainly convenient from a brother's keeper perspective) that people who've "got theirs" can write off the uninsured as casualties of the system at best or the lazy poor who lack care due to their own fault.

    i've been uninsured while i worked as a youth pastor and my husband taught at a christian school. coverage and compassion came from two unlikely places...planned parenthood provided good gynecological care (they're not just for abortions, folks) and eventually, a second job at starbucks yielded affordable coverage for us both. but that kind of solution is rare rare rare, and even WITH insurance, many families can be bankrupted by the exorbitant cost of medical care in america.

    health reform is a moral issue, and christians are certainly called to ACTIVELY care for the uninsured as much as the hungry, naked, imprisoned, and other "least of these."

  6. Suzannah,
    I completely agree with what you are saying. And I must say that I am encouraged to hear from you, and from Amanda as well. I beginning to feel a bit lonely out on this branch. Blessings to you as we journey through this mess.

  7. Found your blog from the blogher site. Thank you for writing this & letting your blog be a sounding board for this.


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