Health care and incarnation

Sometimes things that come to us from different directions come together to help us see things more clearly.

Joe Gibbs’ and Jon Holmlund’s most recent posts look at different aspects of how we provide health care in our society. Joe expressed the need for a theologically grounded understanding of the need to provide health care for those who currently are unable to afford it. Jon discussed the need to have reasonable expectations in the treatment of cancer. These two ideas address two of the significant things that are broken in our current way of providing healthcare in the US. Both of them contribute to why we have a very expensive system that does not meet the basic needs of the most needy.

Today in chapel I listened to Skye Jethani give a very thoughtful talk about how we as Christians should interact with those with other religious beliefs. He suggested that in our increasingly multicultural world we should not retreat into isolation to protect ourselves from contamination. Nor should we hide our Christianity as we try to work with others for the common good which in turn benefits us. His recommendation was that we model how we engage those who are unlike us after Jesus’ incarnation. Jesus came to earth revealing God to mankind and intentionally engaging us to express his sacrificial love. Since love is willing what is best for another person, our faith should motivate us to engage those who are not like us to do what is best for them without hiding who we are.

As I reflected on what I had read and heard I realized they all fit together. As Christians we should be engaging not only those who are unlike us in faith, but all who are in need as we model Jesus’ incarnation. That leads us to seek out what is best for those who are not provided for in our current system of health care as Joe was saying. It means Christian physicians should help patients with cancer and others throughout our society better understand that what is best for them may not always be more treatment, but wise care with an understanding of our mortality and the hope we have beyond that. As we address the needs of the poor and the sometimes unrealistic expectations we have as a society about medicine with a focus on what is ultimately best for everyone we will begin to have the perspective needed to address our broken health care system.

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