Friday, June 29, 2012

Stop Hating Leaders and Become One: The First Health Care Mandate

Say whatever you like about the constitutionality of the health care law, it will not solve all the problems as some hope, and it will not be the fiery apocalyptic end of civilization as others tend to argue.  My concern is how did we even get here in the first place?  How does any "modern developing" society that believes in evolving intellects and advancement find itself in a place that must cajole people to move.

We idly sit by criticizing our leaderships every move demanding them to make changes that allow for better jobs, better pay, affordable healthcare, and equal access to education and opportunities.  The majority sees the world as an incomplete place and we point figures at past leaders, opposing political parties and contentious markets for our problems.  When did we adopt the belief that real change must trickle down from the top?

What if the only way to provide better jobs, equal opportunities and health care was through small local changes?  The early church had it right.  The church had the message of Jesus Christ upon the cross, the message of forgiveness and hope, the message of eternal life.  The early church also believed that they were called by their messiah to advance his kingdom here on earth.  The advancement of Christ's kingdom does not come with holy wars, forced conversion, or a Christian nation-state, but through caring for the poor, widow, and orphan.

The early church quickly attracted a following because of their encompassing way of community.  No one had shortage of food in the church because they all shared their meals together.  The rich with the poor sat down side by side, brother next to brother, sister next to sister as equals and ate the same meal.  If someone was out of a job due to famine, cutbacks, or being blacklisted because of their faith, the church carried the family through and helped them find a job.  If someone was injured and could not work, the church would not only carry the family through the difficult time by taking care of food and shelter, they also provided physical care or the injured.  If famine destroyed your farm, your house burnt down, a plague ran through your town, there were no sick days there was no insurance, there was no equal cheap access to health care, the church was formed together to take care of every need.  The only mandate was to love at all tiems with everything (literally everything) you had.

This kind of community extremely attracted the poor, but it quickly grew so that even the wealthy could not ignore the power of the movement.  The power and provision was always driven by Christ as their Lord and savior, but as the church grew in size and influence they began to focus less on local communities to address problems.  The Churches started becoming regional, then national, and then global.  The church formed a hierarchy that imitated the powerful nation-states, with a Pope at the top, cardinals as governors, bishops as local magistrates, and priests as alderman.  The church became an ineffective government.

The early church understood the importance of influence not through money, or power, but through joining together, eating, praying, living together and providing for needs.  The church did not try to fix the world, it tried to care for those within her reach, and this enacted a chain reaction.

If we want change we cannot hand it over to leaders governing from the top of the world.  Change begins by reassessing our values, reaching out and joining with our neighbors, and committing to care for those within our reach.  Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change themselves.  Everybody wants to save the world, but nobody wants to save their neighbor.  A smaller focus means a bigger change.

It is time we focused on doing the right things, like making sure we are paying our neighbors livable wages, not because someone makes us but because it is right.  We need to make sure our neighbors are getting enough food to eat instead of handing them a form for food stamps.  We need to join together and help find shelter for those struck with tragedy, and not wait for the government to do it.  It is time we do the right thing for our neighbors without passing it off to anyone else.  The kingdom of God is coming, and Christ with it, and we will be judge on his mercy, and how we care for each other, if we rely on some other force to care for our neighbor why we turn our back, we may miss out.

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