Health Care: The Good Fight?
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2010 Apr 01
It was a sad weekend as Congress passed a health care reform bill. The way it came about as the will of the American people was ignored and the awful consequences are enough to scare and stir up the most passive Christian. Further intrusion of government into our lives, loss of liberty, escalating insurance and health care costs, decreasing quality of health care itself, and an easier means of killing those who have no power to defend themselves are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of those consequences.
Scared and angry are the two words that come to mind when I think of the typical Christian's reaction to this bill and where our government is taking us. In fact, some are panicked and others are ready to explode. And then there are calls from Christian leaders to fight in various ways. What lies ahead has been called a "brutal battle" and appeals for money to help "fight the good fight" are common.
Certainly Christians are to be salt and light. We are to influence our culture with the gospel in every area. It is legitimate to be involved in the social, civil, and political happenings of our day. Yet, I am very concerned that confusion abounds among Christians and we're getting some things mixed-up.
More than one Christian conservative has referred to any number of political battles as "fighting the good fight." To do so is to confuse one battle for another and actually cheapen the gospel in the process. Paul defines the "good fight" in 1 Tim. 6:12 as the "good fight of faith." He is talking about overcoming trials and temptations that would assault our faith in Christ. He is talking about "[laying] hold of eternal life;" persevering in the faith. Later he said he had "fought the good fight" and defined it as "[keeping] the faith" and was ready to receive his heavenly reward (2 Tim. 4:7-8). The health care battle may be relatively important at some level, but it is not ultimate and it is not the "good fight." Realizing this truth will help us keep things in proper perspective, diminish some of that fear and anger, and honor God.
Of course, we have to understand that neither fear nor anger honors God. Fear doesn't come from God (Rom. 8:15; 2 Tim. 1:7) and anger doesn't produce the righteousness of God (Jas. 1:20; Col. 3:8; Eph. 4:31). We're not being good witnesses when we express either of those things before others. We must talk to others about what's going on in our world with the quiet confidence that becomes one who knows God is in charge no matter what happens and that His kingdom is ultimate.
Further, we need to think about what our real battle and calling is. Our battle is not to make America better. Our battle is to advance the kingdom of God. When Paul was under arrest by the Roman government, he didn't concern himself with the injustice of his situation; he concerned himself with advancing God's kingdom (Acts 28:31). If we understand why we exist as kingdom citizens, our focus will be Christ and not better lives for ourselves. As we spread the message of the kingdom, the gospel, America may or may not become a better place. But, we will have peace in fulfilling the purpose for which we were created and saved. Any action we take on health care reform or any other political, civil, or social issue must be connected to the gospel; God's kingdom. And, no matter what happens to us in this earthly kingdom of America, no one can keep us from being part of God's kingdom and doing the things that we are called to do as kingdom citizens. My health insurance cost may increase. But the real issue is whether or not I represent God well in that circumstance and where my true satisfaction is; in Christ or in a better standard of living. Fighting carnally for earthly things does not put the power of the gospel on display. Resting in Christ and pointing others to Him does.
Now think about this: what does it say about one's walk with God to be stirred up about your political opponents but not stirred up about people dying and going to Hell? What are the implications of acting in a way that causes lost people to hate us; to fight earthly battles with ugly rhetoric with people who need to be saved; to foster hatred in our own hearts for lost people that we should love enough to point them to Christ; to put so much attention on what we want here and now? Yes Christians are concerned with injustice and the loss of liberty for everyone. But, are we confused about our motive when we fight carnal battles? Do people see us concerned about them or ourselves?
With reference to health care and other political issues, Christian leaders are asking point blank: "Will you fight back?" The Lord Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here" (Jn. 18:36). What does that mean for us?
Finally, how can you overcome fear and anger on this issue? Well, where is your hope? God says that He has established a kingdom that cannot be destroyed that will ultimately break into pieces all other kingdoms including America (Dan. 2:44). Wow! Now that's a kingdom whose battles I want to fight.
Dr. Paul Dean invites you to discover more about yourself, God, and others . . . and develop a Christian worldview. Dr. Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. Receive a FREE commentary and learn more at www.trueworldview.com.