By Jacqueline J. Holness
When I was a student at the University of Georgia, I often saw a white street preacher perched on a wooden platform in the student center courtyard, wildly proclaiming the gospel. I had several reasons for not stopping to listen to what he had to say. My two main reasons were that he looked unkempt and other students heckled him.
In my neighborhood, on one the busiest thoroughfares, a large, sloppily dressed black woman often stands near a traffic light yelling about Jesus. I’ve ignored her mostly because I’ve got “places to go and people to see.” And it seems her message cannot be all that important if all she has is a street corner.
But in the back of my mind, in both instances, I have wondered. If I were alive during the time Jesus was on earth in human form, would I have ignored his message because he didn’t fit the standards I thought a Messiah should attain? People of his day wanted to ignore Jesus because he was a carpenter’s son and not a member of the elite Pharisees and Sadducees. But as Jesus continued to minister to people—which often included many, many dramatic healings—his message could not be ignored or dismissed.
This leads me to healings and our modern day health care reform debate. Although it has reemerged during President Obama’s tenure, the health care reform debate has been around at least since President Theodore Roosevelt was in office. Indeed, it could be said this vigorous health care reform debate has become a part of American political culture.
Jesus the Healer
One of the things I’ve loved about Jesus (even when I was a child and not able to fully comprehend his message) was his commitment to heal anyone at any time. Sometimes he even healed people without seeming to try—like the woman who was healed after touching the hem of his garment. In fact, healings comprised the majority of the Messiah’s miracles. Even a cursory examination of the Bible demonstrates his commitment to health care. As Jesus is the centerpiece of our faith, Christians have to come together on this all-important issue or compromise our
At the heart of this issue are the millions of Americans who are uninsured. It has been suggested that 45 million people would be uninsured without health care reform, although many debate that statistic. Still, those on both sides of the issue agree that millions do not have health insurance, and the current health care system (with its confusing rules and costly drugs) is insufficient.
When I think about the Pharisees and the Sadducees, I think about the term “status quo.” All of their actions in relation to Jesus were done to maintain their power and way of life at all costs. They were threatened by the ability of Jesus (essentially a drifter lacking credentials and prestige) to do what they couldn’t. Jesus healed people and they could not, even though they were the power brokers of the day.
Challenging the Status Quo
I believe the government should be involved in healing the masses through health care reform. According to Romans 13:1-5, God established government to preserve order and serve people. We would be foolhardy not to recognize the government’s ability to do what individuals have not been able to do throughout the years—guarantee access to affordable health care for every American.
Some say the government should not be involved in health care reform, and that private citizens (such as the Samaritan man who aided the injured traveler) or private organizations should bear the responsibility instead. It seems to me such a plan hasn’t worked up to this point, and there is no reason to think it will work now. It may be tempting to put the issue on the back burner, but Jesus never waited to cure anyone.
It’s tempting to cling to the status quo because of its familiarity. More often than not, however, the answer to societal and cultural problems is revolutionary. And it challenges us to look beyond cultural norms—in the tradition of the message of the all-time status quo breaker himself, Jesus Christ.
Jacqueline J. Holness, a member of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is a correspondent for Courthouse News Service, and
author of After the Altar Call: The Sisters’ Guide to Developing a Personal Relationship With God, (Nevaeh Publishing, 2012).