Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hate it when my friends make me think. It’s so much easier to hold to my ideas without ever having to think through them and see them from other perspectives. If you’re alive in America today you’ve probably been inundated with stories, articles, and opinions regarding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I know I have been. But then a friend (who will remain anonymous – he LOVES it when I cite him anonymously) and I were involved in a group discussion in which someone said:

“Government control comes with a price that some do not want.”

To which my friend replied:

“What is this price you aren’t willing to pay? If we’re honest, this price most aren’t willing to pay is a smaller bank account. Most aren’t willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of people we don’t know.”

That’s what a lot of this comes down to, isn’t it? I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got and it’s already a struggle as it is. Now I’ve got to sacrifice more for people I don’t even know? I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got kids in school. That’s how my mind went, anyway. I don’t want a smaller bank account. I’m trying to put into it, not withdraw from it!

But when do we actually start allowing out faith to influence our behavior? As Christians we claim that God loves people. We claim that we love God. We often forget to make the connection that loving God then means that we love people too, and that means caring for people who don’t have the ability to care for themselves.

James has a powerful passage in his letter in which he says:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warm and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (James 2:14-16)

I’m sure men smarter than I am can argue about the exact significance of the Greek parsing and explain that this passage doesn’t really relate to the Affordable Care Act. As for me, I see a biblical principle at play: faith must be balanced out by caring for the practical needs of those we encounter. It does no good to wish people well if we’re not actually going to do anything about it.

Without actions to back it up faith is incomplete. We can recite the important elements of faith – love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – but then miss the heart of God’s work; caring for people. Have you been in a place where you need help and someone has reached out to give you a hand? The way we want people to act towards us is the same way we ought to act towards them. Shouldn’t this come out in our social and political policies as well as our personal lives?

I believe that the Affordable Care Act is flawed legislation. The idea of forcing people to participate rubs me the wrong way – you cannot legislate hearts and attitudes. Still, I believe that the principle behind it is ultimately a biblical principle. Shouldn’t Christians be leading the charge to make sure that we are caring for people who need help? So what’s really behind our opposition to the ACA? Is it something about the legislation itself that we think could be done better?

Or is it bristling at being mandated to participate and the idea that our money will go to be helping someone else?

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