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“The primary way in which we interpret life is through stories and everyone has a gospel story. Everyone. Everyone has their version of salvation which is a ‘gospel’ story in that it purports to offer good news. – [Everyday Church p134]

I am currently on job seekers allowance and every fortnight I have to go and sign on.  Over the last few weeks I have really noticed that the job centre communicate a clear ‘gospel’ story (or worldview) that is completely in a realm of its own.

The backbone of JSA is this…
I will be happy and forefilled if i …get a job
To achieve this I must …apply for 3 jobs a week and fill out my universal job match correctly and attend all meetings in order to receive benefit.
Failing this will result in… cutting benefit and potentially receiving a court order.

We know the big story of the Bible goes, trinity, creation, fall, redemption and hope. But everyone has a ‘gospel’ story what is it according to the job centre?  (Considering the amount of people on JSA and job losses at the moment, grasping this is surely crucial to mission and discipleship??) Here is my deconstruction of the ‘JSA gospel’;

Creation – You were created To and For Work

Fall – I currently cannot get a job for X,Y,Z reason and I am out of work. I have to swallow my pride and ask for a £52 pw benefit.

Redemption – I can change by looking for work, and searching  and seeking work and undertaking voluntary/ further training.

Hope – I hope that I will have a job and I will not have to rely on benefit and I will be respected in wider society.

The bi-weekly communication of this is ‘What have you been doing to look for work?’,  ‘Maybe this job will be the right one for you.’ ‘Better luck next time.’ ‘Maybe try and write up your CV in a different way and approach companies direct.’ It is obviously out and out justification by works. (I must fill out this application to get this Job) However, there is a clear flaw in this thinking. I am not the one who chooses if I get the job or not, that is up to the interview/ the company and ultimately knowing the Father is in control – He decides too.

Therefore the ‘JSA gospel ‘up against the true Christian gospel goes like this;

[Trinity] –  I am loved by the Father, united to Christ, through and by the Spirit. This is an unchanging truth.

Creation – I was created to enjoy God and the gifts that he has given me (including work)

Fall – I have used God’s gift of work to replace God and I find myself enslaved by having to look for work, selling myself and attempting to be in control and ‘okay’ about the situation. People encourage me in my job search and ask about it and therefore I have to justify my actions not only to the job centre but to others around me. I feel ashamed that I am a graduate and living at home and not independent away from parents…

Redemption – God welcomes rebels back at the cross and has placed ALL things under Christ’s feet – I can only receive him and remind myself of his Grace  [ in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church Eph 1-20-22]

Hope – I can trust that Jesus is in control of my life and situations and that this current spell of unemployment is helping me trust in him daily for all my needs. Only He can provide a job for me, that will be the right job at the right time and for my good. Be thankful that our government does have a benefit system.

Both of the ‘JSA gospel‘ and the true gospel can shape and control my heart. I know Jesus is better but I quickly listen to the falsehood of the world and the ‘JSA gospel’. It has been good to sit down and blog this post to simply recognise these differences because I need to be able to swap the ‘JSA hope‘ for the true hope – when practically I am standing there on Friday mornings or filling out the next job application form.

If you know me – Please help me and encourage me and remind me of the true good news and love that will last, yesterday, today and forever.  Please remind others who are unemployed. Above all – treat them as a person loved by the Father – not just a time slot or a unemployed statistic.

[ Framework taken from Everyday Church – Timmis and Chester – IVP]