Today I have been thinking and talking about employment programs. The benefits of work extend far beyond the pay that one may receive on a periodic basis. Other rewards such as self-esteem, meaningful contribution to society, socialisation and even giving structure to one's week can be just as important or perhaps even more important than the financial benefits for some people.
Unfortunately, full employment is an impossible goal. Even if our national economy were ready to support such a feat, the reality is that there are many amongst our population that are unable to hold down a full-time job. What is it that we can do for these people so that they don't entirely miss out on the benefits of work which the majority of Australians are able to share?
I believe that we are called to work towards the kind of society in which all people are able to experience fullness of life (John 10:10). This means that finding ways for people to contribute meaningfully to the community, to allow them to participate in society so that the benefits of employment are more fully available to everyone. This will probably create some perceived inequities, as those who are fully capable and see themselves as working harder react against those who have a lesser capacity and are seen to contribute less. Jesus spoke against this kind of jealous attitude in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matt 20:1-16) and also through the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Perhaps it is time for the church to take notice of this and set an example for the rest of the world?