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ObamaCare and Jesus Care

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Protesters against the Obama administration's health-care law gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. On the last day of its term, the court voted to uphold the law and its controversial individual mandate (Credit: Reuters / Jason Reed)

The Supreme Court made history yesterday with its landmark decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, often called ObamaCare).  The Court determined the fine charged to those who do not buy insurance to be a tax and thus within congressional powers to impose.  This ruling allows the “individual mandate” to stand.

Supporters are celebrating, claiming that the ACA is a significant step toward lower costs and greater coverage.  Critics argue that its requirement that everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty is a violation of individual liberties; many predict that the Act will raise costs rather than lowering them.

Whether the ACA is the right or wrong approach to health care reform, nearly everyone agrees that something needs to change.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states that among its 34 members, the U.S. healthcare system is highest in spending but 31st in providing healthcare coverage.  Healthcare costs, currently estimated at $2.6 trillion, will rise to $4.8 trillion over the next decade.  About 50 million Americans, one-sixth of our population, are without health insurance.

My opinion on the legalities and economics of the ACA is inconsequential, so I’m asking a different question today: if Jesus were in charge of health care, what would he do?

First, JesusCare demonstrates compassion for the needs of others.  However you view the role of government in health care, know that God wants you to care for hurting people.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (Matthew 10:8).  Peter and John were empowered to heal a paralytic (Acts 3:1-10).  Paul was used by God to heal the lame (Acts 14:8-10), the demon-possessed (Acts 16:16-18), and the sick (Acts 19:11-12).  Our Father wants us to be his hands of compassion for hurting people today.

Second, JesusCare makes physical health part of our personal commitment to God.  The division of soul and body so common in Greek culture was no part of Scripture.  The Hebrew Bible is replete with ordinances governing diet, disease, and exercise.  Jesus referred to himself as a “physician” (Luke 4:23), healing the blind, the paralyzed, the leprous, and the dead.  Now that the Holy Spirit has made our body his temple (1 Corinthians 3:16), God calls us to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1).  He holds us responsible for maintaining good health: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

What do you think JesusCare would look like?  Please share your comments on our website.  The merits of ObamaCare will be debated for years to come, but the merits of JesusCare are indisputable.  What will you do today to be the healing hands of Christ?  How will you honor him with your body?