First of all, congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. It’s a hugely important role, well earned by your years of hard work for your constituency and in government. Decisions that you make, and discussions that you contribute to, will have a massive effect on many lives.
I don’t know whether you remember me, but we were members of the same church in Bermondsey for several years in the 1990s. We have mutual friends who know both of us well enough that they bring their families to visit both you and me every year, and they always speak very highly of you.
So I know from my own experience and their comments that your Christianity is real: not a cynical stance to appeal to certian voters, but a deeply held conviction that motivates and directs your work. I know that you, like me, don’t take lightly the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25, verse 45: “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me”.
It’s not my place to tell you what policies to enact. But I want to ask you this one thing. Would you please be very sure that your decisions are guided not by non-biblical proverbs like “God helps those who help themselves”, but by the words of Jesus? It pains me when I read David Cameron claiming that “the values of Easter and the Christian religion [include] hard work and responsibility” and “Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children”. We both know that the message of the cross is that God has blessed us even though we don’t deserve his blessing — not because of our “hard work” or “responsibility”.
So my suggestion would be that, in your new and very demanding job, you start each day by re-reading the parable of the sheep and goats.