One of the things I enjoy (there are a few other reasons, of course) about Pastor Efrem's sermons is that he isn't afraid to get political, but never gets partisan in doing so (which is what any pastor is supposed to do).
This Sunday he mentioned to touch on health care--which obviously is a hot topic right now. I lived a year under government health care. I had an appendectomy there. There are pros and cons of it, of course. It was wonderful to walk away from a hospital and not ever see a bill. I did have to share a room with three women though (one who was the mayor of the city). It wasn't always the most expedient. But everyone had access. I tend to be better at doing preventative check-ups and such when I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay for it. So I'm not quick to totally nay-say government health care (much of the world is under it and has a better health record than we do), but I don't know if the current approach solves much either (not that I'm well-versed on the subject matter yet).
Efrem's point, however, was that health care shouldn't be a government issue. It should be a church issue. Part of the reason why the government has so many issues to deal with and troubles of it's own is that the church hasn't stepped up and done it's job of advancing the Kingdom (not that that would remove all government issues, of course). God's Kingdom, as we've been looking at in Jeremiah recently, is a Kingdom of truth, justice and righteousness. That means helping those who are overlooked (like the homeless woman who was standing at the corner on our way to church last Sunday). Churches should think about making space for a free clinic rather than upgrading to a multi-million dollar building (Pastor Efrem also targets pastors who drive a Lexus in that).
I've noticed a lot of political argument tends to say the government shouldn't be involved in some areas, but then never gives a solution for dealing with it (eg. abortion is murder, but people seldom talk about how to minister to the women who are seeking abortions outside of making them illegal, or about all of the children in orphanages). This is where the church needs to come into play (and should have been for years). We've got the solution (which is Jesus, of course; and Jesus method was to heal the sick, give worth to the outcast, lift up the low, take care of the widows, orphans, poor, etc.). We just haven't been good at sharing it with those who truly need it; we haven't done a great job of inviting the needy inside the doors of the church.
That's sounding a bit critical, I'm realizing. And I don't fully intend to be--though on some level I do. I just encountered a quote by Pastor Efrem in a magazine that was sitting next to me that helps shed light on where he's coming from (and I think I'm hitting on as well). "We should be involved in politics in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He never sold out to the Deomocrats or Republicans. He ticked them both off as he served as a prophetic voice" (Efrem Smith, Relevant Magazine, Jan-Feb 2007). So in addition to being a little critical, I'm more trying to be that prophetic voice, encouraging the church to bring the Kingdom of God to the people around it and not letting the government try and fix everything that's broken. I know I'm not modeling this well myself yet, but someday I may get there. I invite you on the journey as well.