Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Root of the Problem

I was talking to a few friends, coworkers, and even my wife this past week. Each discussion about a current issue seemed to go a little sideways. Here is what I mean. I was talking about immigration, and a friend stated the problem was that illegal aliens are able to show up in the local Emergency Room (or other places) and get care at the expense of working Americans. The facts are that someone is here breaking a law, and yet, we need to have compassion and give life saving medical treatment that they cannot afford.

It certainly is a quandary - an ethical dilemma, and there is no clear cut Bible verse that we can stand on without debate which allows us to know what exactly what to do. There isn't and don't gag me by saying, "What would Jesus do?" He would have healed them supernaturally, free of charge.

As I thought about this issue and others like it - beyond cable news and the rhetoric of Washington- what I discovered is that the situation at hand was a symptom of a deeper problem. In this particular instance, it due to a number of factors.

1) We don't have an established "line" to get into. Every foreigner that hopes to come the US doesn't have any idea where the line is exactly, how long it is, and what type of treatment they will received in moving towards the coveted Green Card. That a huge part of the problem.

2) As a country, we have not decided morally [ethically, biblically] what to do about health care. We just have opinions about it - especially about giving it to lazy folks; unwilling to work, and those with severe sicknesses that even the best insurance doesn't cover. We haven't decided, as a country why or why not to provide universal health care. We are already into "how" to do it.

One side says you can't legislate morality, and I think they are wrong - yet it seems they are right.

The root issue in health care is moral - the rest of the debate is about money and power - what else is new? The symptoms of the problem are those that feel entitled to having something for nothing on one side, and those that are greedy in the industry on the other along with working Americans that do not want to shoulder the bill. Neither position addresses the problem. And part of the reason health care is so expensive is the ludicrous malpractice suits that give millions and millions of dollars- awards without end to those that may have truly suffered. (That's my opinion.)

It's a moral issue at the root and no amount of debate is going to make it just work out until we decide the moral issue. But we won't, and therefore it won't get solved satisfactorily.

For a less controversial issue let's look at oil prices now that they have receded for the time being. We could drill in ANWR and hopefully get enough oil to lower prices for a few years. Higher prices, again, are a symptom of a much bigger problem, not a root cause. The root cause is we have had poor energy policies for many decades and they have caught up with us. Drilling is a temporary fix. Converting to renewable energy source is a solution. And it solves the foreign oil issue - which personally makes me feel safer here in the US. Also, my opinion.

When we look at the many issues facing us personally, our regions and even the world, there are root causes. If we want to solve things, we must look at root causes, not the symptoms. Sure we have complex problems, but fixing symptoms is never a long term solution. For example: Money doesn't solve spending problems - most folks that win the lottery end blowing it all and resorting to the same life style they had before they won. Interesting.

Certainly there a myriad of other social and political issues that don't fit into a specific biblical paradigm - ones for which a chapter and verse do not point to a direct solution. These require thought and most of all godly wisdom - wisdom that seems to be in short supply.

So what's bugging you?

Finances, health, relationships, kids, work -- things aren't going well at church - what? God wants to get at the root of these issues in our lives and provide a solution. He wants to build a foundation so that the choices we make in the future have something foundational to sit atop of.

There are many stories in the Bible of folks that didn't get it - Saul is an example. Of course there are others that finally did. Peter is a good example of finally lining up with the God's will, and making tremendous strides for the Kingdom. It cost him everything.

Hebrews 4:12 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. Amplified Bible

Before you stop reading - this is not a lesson on reading your Bible. You're an adult now, just do it.

Consider Hebrews 4:12 for a moment. It points out a couple of important things about how we humans are put together.

1) The word divides the soul and the spirit. That means that what you feel, and think could be wrong according to the spirit which God controls. Hopefully the new man is released in us (the Spirit), and God is controlling the soulish realm of our thoughts, will and emotions. Of course we all periodically, and sometimes monumentally, fail at this because of our sin nature.

2) It points out how closely related the soul and spirit are - as close as bone (joints) is to the marrow. If you are not familiar with marrow, the only way to separate it from the bone is to scrape it! The two are virtually one. Now that's close.

What does that mean for you and me? It means that our feelings could get in the way of our spirit - the Spirit that God puts in us. We just might miss God. It means that my opinions about health care and the price of oil could be wrong. The good news is that when we immerse ourselves in Gods' word - we have a much better chance of getting it right.

I know a fellow in the church. He's very intelligent and has an amazing entrepreneurial spirit. This guy can think up a viable business in a matter of hours - one that has true potential for making a profit. He can organize people around the idea and motivate them to give it their all. So, why is this guy not "successful" and not a millionaire? Because business, like the kingdom of God, requires a foundation and generally functions by a set of rules or "best practices." Business requires a blend of knowledge, gifting, timing and godly wisdom.

As a Christian, solving problems, personal, corporate or regional (and not creating them) requires a blend of knowledge, gifting, timing and godly wisdom. Amen?

Here are some biblical principals that might help you get to the root causes for some of your issues. You can look them up, they're in there.

How do we get to the root of relationship issues, we learn how to love. We ask God to revel that root of bitterness. We learn forgiveness, sacrifice and service.

How about divorce? We get healing for the "deal breakers" addictions, abuse and infidelity. Jesus said that hardness of heart was the problem - not getting a new spouse.

God has a plan for finances that honestly, is contrary to the way we live in so many places. It starts with not borrowing. Wow, not even $20 from your parents.

As you can, the Bible is pretty clear about the root of many of our woes - and the remedy! But problem solving is not an intellectual endeavor, nor is it a throw it up in the air and let God figure out one either. We must use the Spirit that God has given us to control our soul-- to allow it to filter our thoughts from His. We need to let Him decide if what we are feeling is truly His will, or a way for us to rationalize our own will.

Church, we need to hear God on all issues. When someone says, "I think" - they could be in trouble. Of course when some says. "the Lord said," I hope they're really listening, for if they are, it will bear fruit.

I could write a book on solving problems - but the Bible is already written.


photogr said...

I would tink if every one would follow the scriptures ( believers and non believers alike)we may not have so many unsolvable social and political issues we are currently facing.

When God is taken out of the equation in any issue, you have total dismay and anarchy. Our country today is a perfect example.

Tony C said...

Very timely post for me personally...thanks.

On the issue of health care, why do we feel it's okay to mandate an education on our youth, but not be concerned about their health in the same manner? It's a perplexing paradox and snapshot of the country's inconsistent mentality.

I believe part of the problem is well explained by photor's comment above, but I also believe the politically active in this country are corraled into one of two popular party platforms and forced (or brainwashed) into believe a given party's stance on an issue is the only correct one. How else do you explain a Republican party draped with God that is taking a Darwinistic approach to health care- 'If you work hard and have a good have good health insurance for health care. If your dad and mom are bums...sorry kids, you lose with them. But before you die from the whooping cough, we'll make sure you're educated.'

There just not a lot of Jesus in the latter, as I see it.

photogr said...

Well put Tony. Perhaps we should also insist on mental health issues too considering the recent rash of news flashes on voilence from the younger generation.

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