Three bucks a day. Do I really want to pay three bucks to save a life? You know, that three bucks could also get me a serving of French fries and pop. Those three bucks could also be used towards group health care, or my own health care. Or I could just pocket it. You see, what if I give that money to save a life and that person doesn’t live their life like I live mine? What if I save a life that isn’t worth it?
Jesus doesn’t ask us to consider three bucks. He asks a single cup of cold water. Starts even smaller and asks : Do you really want to give a stranger a cup of cold water? We could use it to water plants. Or use the time it takes to pour it for something better. It could be risky. What if they sue us for the water being too cold?
Maybe, we don’t want to make either of these concessions. What is mine is mine and what is your’s is your’s. Work harder if you want that 3 bucks and cup of water. Be born into a richer family. Be born without physical or mental conditions. Be lucky. Be luckier.
I am not your savior.
Yet, Christ tells us whomever welcomes another, welcomes Christ. And whomever derides, blames, ignores the needs of others… derides, disowns, and ignores Jesus.
Christ lives through us. Through Christ, we are each other’s earthly saviors. Through us, Christ loves and acts upon the world.
3 bucks. A cup of cold water. Jesus tells us even the smallest acts don’t lose their reward. God notices all mercy and hospitality.
3 dollars. A cup of cold water. A child, deeply loved.
God in Genesis gives Abraham a choice: take the child you have prayed and prayed and worked for, your beloved son, and give me that that little boy.
What will Abraham choose? God leaves it up to this human.
And Abraham doesn’t deny 3 dollars. Or a glass of water. Or even his own son. For the betterment of the world, so that God can work and enter more fully into human history, Abraham is willing to give up the person he loves the most.
God stays Abraham’s hand, and says God knows God has chosen the right person to be the father of God’s people now. Abraham is willing to sacrifice even what and who he loves the most for the salvation of the world. Abraham and God share a similar heart- a heart bent on mercy and hospitality.
When Jesus comes, he reminds us again and again that mercy and hospitality are core ways God loves us. And that we, those who profess we follow Christ and Christ’s ways, should also show much mercy and hospitality.
So why do so many balk at giving up $3 for health care?
Why do so many Christians balk at this?
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, raised taxes .9% on people who made $200,000 a year individually. If you made less than this, your taxes didn’t go up. Your healthcare costs likely did, because premiums tend to increase 3 to 5% every year normally.
It also made health insurance mandatory if you make more than $16,000 as an individual – not talking families or couples here. If you make less than this, nothing changed for you. You’re still considered too poor for health care. If you make more than $16,000, then you have been required to either pay between $695 to $2,085 as a yearly tax to have no coverage, or purchase a coverage plan for $4,500 to $12,000 yearly.
Because when we all give a little, there is enough for everyone to have care. Those who chose to have no coverage contribute money towards the group funds just like those who choose to have discounted coverage and those who make enough to be taxed. All of this is to attempt to provide coverage to people like a little boy I met this week. Let’s call him Adam.
Adam was born with cystic fibrosis. This is called a ‘childhood disease’ because people who are born with this genetic condition tend to die in childhood. It is where a defective gene causes mucus and thick sticky gunk to build up in the organs. Ever had bronchitis? Think of life-long bronchitis that just keeps getting worse. Our Children’s Hospital in Columbus is one of the leaders in treating and researching CF.
If you were born with CF in 1960, your parents would rejoice you reached your tenth birthday.
Today, most people with CF reach 37. This is because of new drugs and treatments. There is still no cure, but doctors are working on it.
Doctors are working with Adam. He is on an experimental drug. So far, it has literally stopped the gene from making mucus. As long as he has his medication, it is like he doesn’t have CF. He is a healthy, happy, normally developing boy. If this drug continues to work the way it is now, he will live a full life – live as long as any of us here.
But the drug is $3,000 a month.
Right now, he is a child. His parent’s insurance covers him.
When he is older… what is going to happen to Adam?
You see, insurance companies are not non-profits. They are not out to help you and I. They are out to make money. It is a gamble. You and I and they gamble on who is going to cost the other money. Each month, your premium is actually a bet. You are betting you will need health care. They are betting you will not.
However, just like at a casino, the house always makes money. The house, the insurance company, sets the odds. If you are someone they think will need health care, they’re going to make you pay more in premiums because it is more likely you WILL need care… which means they pay money out.
If you are more likely healthy, then they charge less, because it is less likely you’ll charge them money.
If you clearly are ill… something called a ‘pre-existing condition’… then insurance companies used to just deny coverage.
Have you ever tried to pay for any medical things without insurance coverage?
Now, Adam, he has a pre-existing condition, and an expensive one. Had he been born fifteen years ago… would his parents’ insurance still cover him? Or would that company have denied him? In fifteen years from now… will our public insurance cover him? Will companies with private insurance be allowed to deny him?
Should we revoke the limitations on lifetime maximum payments and pre-existing conditions, does that mean that when Adam becomes an adult… it will be his death sentence as no insurance company helps pay for his life-saving medication?
But some insurance companies are even more insidious than denying coverage to people like Adam. A ‘pre-existing condition’ is ANYTHING that a person has before they are insured with the insurance company.
You know a pre-existing condition?
Stinks to be alive, you know, because you’re going to get older and get sick and injured and… well, we just don’t cover people who are alive. There’s evidence that the disease of being alive is 100% fatal.
Every woman here? I’m sorry. You were born a female. Pregnancy is expensive. Since you are a woman, your coverage will not only cost more… but may be denied if some of the Senate and House coverage changes occur. It doesn’t matter if you’re past the age of getting pregnant.
A major part of the new plans being debated now are on how much to cost women… and the disabled… and specifically elderly people.
If you are young, healthy, and male… the changes being debated help you out.
If you are older, need medication, and female… the changes mean you, like Adam, may be looking at the end of your health care… and the beginning of your rapid decline to death.
Did you know those without health care insurance have a mortality rate 25 to 40% higher than those with health care?
That means, you catch pneumonia and you have insurance. You recover just fine with some antibiotics. Or, you catch pneumonia, and you have no insurance. You can’t afford antibiotics. You have a higher chance of dying compared to the person who has the antibiotics.
Harvard estimated before the national health care, the USA lost someone every 12 minutes due to lack of health care.
Who is this the sacrifice of?
Why are we sacrificing our elderly, our disabled, and our women? Why are we sacrificing our poor, our at-risk, our fellow Americans?
Why, when Jesus tells us to give cups of cold water to strangers, do we argue about denying life-saving medication?
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved son for the benefit of the world.
Are we willing to sacrifice far, far less to keep beloved sons like Adam alive?
I pray so.