I am a feminist; I have been since my late teens, and it means that I often notice things through a lens of the inequalities that exist between men and women.
I get cross when the news comments on a female politician’s appearance rather than her policies, or when I hear news of the indignities and worse that Indian women are subjected to on public transport.
My husband, on the other hand, is an eco-warrior. We have recycling bins, he turns lights off, he uses a bike rather than a car whenever he can, and we get our energy from a “green” supplier.
My daughter is concerned about animal rights. She insists that we eat organic, nonfactory farmed meat and won’t use any beauty products tested on animals.
Each of us is passionate about the causes we support, and, if I’m honest, a little less passionate, although supportive, about the causes the others get behind.
What we do share is a belief that these issues are important because they are at root to do with justice, and so our passions are inspired and informed by an understanding that these issues matter to God because he is a God of justice.
We also believe that just feeling passionate is not enough; our passion for justice has to be worked out in practice.
We are required not only to think justly but also to “act justly” (Micah 6:8), to be “doers of the word, not just hearers” (James 1:22).
The trouble for all of us is that we are bombarded with calls for us to engage with justice issues, and not just by the Christian community.
Politicians want our votes, animal charities show us pictures of kittens, aid agencies ask us to support disaster relief, we are urged to buy fairly traded goods.
At church, we are asked to bring tins for the food bank, money to support denominational organizations, pray for refugees, pack shoeboxes for Romania. The list goes on.
So how do we choose? Our money, energy and time are limited, and sometimes we can feel overwhelmed.
And with the advent of social media the flow of new causes has multiplied; Facebook is awash with calls for people to click “like” to express their support for a homeless family or to pour a bucket of iced water over their heads to raise awareness of a disease.
It’s spawned a new word – “slacktivism.” This means expressing support for an Internet cause by just clicking on “like,” retweeting or commenting, and it means you can kid yourself that you’ve done something, when actually nothing much was achieved. You’re an armchair warrior.
What, then, should our Christian response be? There isn’t a single answer but maybe there are a few things we could consider.
1. Ask God. Pray and seek his guidance. God has a specific call for each of us; ask him to show you what yours is.
2. Follow your passions. A desire for justice always has its origins in God’s heart, so if a particular injustice always makes you really mad, ask God to show you how you can get involved.
3. Be open. Take a moment to listen to the notice about the night shelter or read about your denomination’s work. God might be showing you a new thing to support.
4. Investigate carefully. Don’t waste time and money on something that turns out to be a hoax or not well organized.
5. Is the cause in line with God’s aims? Does this organization work in ways that are honoring to God, whether or not it’s a Christian organization?
6. Don’t feel guilty about what you don’t get involved in (and don’t try to make other people feel guilty when they don’t support your cause).
7. Engage your political representatives. Keep him or her informed of the issues; praise them when they vote in favor of an issue.
8. Whatever you do, be wholehearted in your support. Attend events, marches or demonstrations. Join collaborative groups working for justice. Meet up with others who share a similar passion, discuss ideas and work together. This is not empire building, but kingdom work.
We all share a concern for justice because we all worship a God whose nature is always just, but we express that concern in different ways.
The result is that many causes get support from passionate, committed people.
Not only that but the church becomes more fully a sign of the kingdom of God where justice will roll like a mighty river.
Sarah Fegredo is youth and children’s pastor at West Bridgford Baptist Church in Nottingham, England. A version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Baptist Together magazine – a publication of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It is used with permission.