Friday, December 24, 2010

The "Telos" for Christian Healing Agents

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.   Micah 6:8

In a recent PBS Newshour (12/21 and 12/22/2010), we got to see the nature of health care in Cuba. Health care in Cuba is focused on prevention of disease and the production of a large cadre of health providers. They provide care in Cuba as well as being first responders to the humanitarian disasters around the world. It is and has been the centerpiece of the Cuban revolution.  What is most remarkable to me in the PBS report is the clarity of their mission as a policy. They clearly see the poor and those in need and their answer is the Cuban revolution.

This certainly is a topic for “healing agents” conversations that provokes some serious questions. Is state-sponsored compassionate, affordable, health care a complementary or better response than a Christian faith-based response? This is a question of the basis (“telos”) of the care and not just the content and context. There is no question about that the health care "telos" for Cuban health care is Fidel Castro and his communist ideology.

Can we as Christians participate with other organizations that have another “telos” for what and how they see their vocation. This is a lesson in the theology of common grace. Richard Mouw addresses what we share and at the same time what is unique in our life on this planet as Christians in his book, He Shines in all that’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace. It is a complicated and a divisive subject.

The bottom line for me is that our vocation is a means of bringing glory to God and the redeeming work of his Son. It is about God and not us! We can celebrate what Cuba is doing, but need to remember that it is not about Cuba or the United States and the health care in those cultures. We know that the poor are a long-term concern of the Bible narratives and that we need to follow the words of the prophet Micah. These are hard words to live by but they are the heart of who we are to be.


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