There’s an interesting article posted at Christianity Today which discusses the role the early church played in the development of modern health care.
Contrary to common belief, early Christians didn’t shun the idea of administering medicine or believe that all physical illness came about because of demonic influence. In fact it was their belief in Imago Dei, that human beings were created in God’s image, that caused them to place a high importance on caring for widows, orphans, the sick and others in need. Such compassionate care was revolutionary in pagan cultures where the sick and burdensome were regularly left outside the home to die, and eventually led to the formation of some of the first hospitals and medical practices.
The best way to provide care to everyone in the country may be up for debate. We may argue over whether to prefer new regulation of insurers and health care providers or a government-run plan. The need to provide care for the poor, however, was settled centuries ago.
As the health care debate rages on in America, it’s good to stop and reflect on some of the driving principles which shaped the early church. Providing loving and compassionate care to those who were sick and unable to provide for themselves was as much a part of the mission of the early church as proclaiming the gospel. Hopefully we can learn from their example as we continue to seek God’s guidance on this important and hotly contested issue.