EDITORIAL: Christ-like debate

The main feature in today’s Faith & Religion section of the Daily Journal deals with the debate among Christians about our health care system and current efforts to reform it.
Whatever one’s perspective on government policy, there is no question that health care is a moral and religious issue. It strikes at the heart of the biblical mandate to attend to the physical as well as the spiritual needs of all.
Whether it’s the government’s role to ensure that health care is available to all is the question at the heart of the current debate. But if the answer is no, then Christians must ask themselves: What am I doing to help? How am I ensuring that “the least of these” in whom we meet Christ face to face are getting the health care they need?
The approach and details of policy are matters that people of faith can and do disagree on, but indifference to the plight of the sick and hurting is simply not an option for those who call themselves Christians.
In addition to a sincere effort to find the best ways to make high-quality, affordable health care available to those who need it, Christians have a responsibility to act Christ-like as the debate continues.
Jesus was never reluctant to call things as he saw them. He could be blunt, direct and challenging, especially to the religious authorities of the day.
But Jesus’ words were always spoken in love. And they were always spoken with empathy for those in need.
Too often the debate on health care turns unChrist-like. Arguments are made in anger. Opponents are regarded as enemies. Motives are questioned. Names are called.
All sides have engaged in exaggerations and distortions. There have been appeals to fear based on half-truths and less. Political posturing and self-interested gamesmanship have colored everything.
Jesus bids us to a higher calling, a way of working through a contentious issue that is not the way of the world. It uses love – the willed desire for the good of others – as its guide. It is respectful and truthful. It seeks not a victor and a vanquished but justice and reconciliation.
Often Christians, whatever their political stripe, have a hard time acting like Jesus. It’s difficult, and there aren’t many examples other than Christ himself to emulate. But that doesn’t make the mandate any less compelling.
The tenor and tone of our debate on health care and other critically important issues needs the leavening influence of Christ-like behavior. There need not be less passion or commitment, but there does need to be much more forbearance and good will.
Love – not the sentimental feeling, but the active response – is at the heart of it. The kind of love that avoids arrogance and condescension, that listens in order to understand if not agree, that values truth over advantage, and that genuinely seeks a solution for the benefit of all and not simply a victory for some.
It’s possible – unless Christians insist on taking their cue from the world.

NEMS Daily Journal