Over the holidays, I got caught in the middle of a discussion on how to fix America’s healthcare system. Inside, I found myself feeling angrier by the minute. During my 30 years as a healthcare professional, every year I found myself increasingly burdened by paperwork and rules that were meant to prevent fraud and poor treatment. At the same time, “productivity” standards (as if people were machines) increased to improve “efficiency” and decrease waste. I know that the rules were well intended, but here’s the problem, in the long run, the rules had me spending more time documenting and less time treating patients. Following the letter of the law had become if not impossible, exhausting.
My opinion about the healthcare crisis isn’t the point. I am not advocating that we throw out all rules. What I am recognizing is the truth that Jesus tells. Rules don’t fix us. They don’t protect our hearts from being indifferent to God or to the needs of others. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. Mark 7:6-7.” Our problems are not behavior problems; they are heart problems. First, Jesus wants our hearts transformed, then our actions will follow.
This isn’t theological rocket science, but it does change the world. When God has his way with individual hearts, wonderful things happen: secular institutions like schools, healthcare, banks, governments, etc. are transformed for the better. Sure we need to look for solutions to the world’s problems, but the most immediate solution is found in examining my own heart and surrendering it to the One who made me.
The Psalmist encourages us:
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of the sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Lord, Keep me from latching on to human rules and my need to be right. Let me embrace your law and find out what it means to love you with all my heart, soul and mind in this hour, this day. Amen.