It's turtles all the way down. If we are women with careers and status in mind, then the church's treatment of women is the most important thing. If we are part of a group that has often been treated badly, then we consider the church's teaching and outreach to our group to be the most important mark going forward of whether the church is doing its job. The word journey pops up a lot there. Bringing the gospel to under-served people-groups...foreign missions...the homeless...support for the addicted...helping LGBTQ people feel welcomed...getting Bibles into as many hands as possible...preserving the church's treasure of music...helping people separate from the world and focus on what's important...
One can go on for quite a while with legitimately good causes that we each feel should be shoved to the front of the line. Mine is "Preserving Western Civilisation, which includes Christianity and is currently..."
No, I shall not make that argument further. We each have our own. As usual, CS Lewis has the response that is good:
The real trouble about the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call “Christianity And.” You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform*. If they must be Christians, let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing. The Screwtape LettersIt sometimes seems that Christian parents can only talk about The Schools, female pastors can only talk about the treatment of women, black Christians can only talk about race, political conservatives can only talk about religious freedom, twenty-somethings only raise the flag that in a deeply changed society the church still offers 1950s cultural solutions, and transgenders are acutely aware thatour old language doesn't fit them.
I won't tell you the rant I wish to deliver to them all (that I just delivered, with emphatic hand gestures,on today's hike along Bog Brook Road to an audience of only myself). I will deliver this sadder, but likely more reasonable* advice. If any of these is your cause, you in all likelihood have to drop it. It may be a legitimate cause for Christians to attend to, but not for you. Jesus resisted the temptation to power over all the sadness and trouble in the world during the 40 days in the wilderness. We should not presume to be immune from that temptation, which He thought important enough to be one of the few things He mentioned out of the whole 6-week experience. Fixing things here is still a secondary, not an ultimate point. Advocacy is not our challenge, it is our temptation.
Sometimes God uses our experiences of pain or oppression to help us be sensitised to the issues which include others in our category. Charitable nonprofits often grown out of terrible events. But I think it is much more likely that we invite ourselves into that advocacy, as a way of elevating our tribe and even (gulp) ourselves in the world.
* Notice that 75 years later, the causes are almost entirely different. That should tell us something.
**It could hardly be less reasonable.