Looking at the big picture

Published 2:20 pm Saturday, February 15, 2014

By Abbie Long

Question: Recently I went with a group from my church, my pastor included, on an outing. We were waiting in a line and my pastor saw some really young people, who none of us knew, smoking and using profanity. He immediately approached them and told them they needed to stop cursing, they were too young to be smoking, and that they “needed to find Jesus.” He has never been one to watch what he says so most of the people in our group were not bothered by what he did, but I was. Am I wrong for thinking my pastor handled it wrong or was he just doing what he was supposed to do?

Answer: Tanya was looking for an escape. While trying to decide among the natural history museum, the modern art gallery, and the University’s botanical gardens, she decides to read the morning paper. Immediately an article titled “Rip, Roaring and Ready to be Unveiled” catches her attention. Continuing to read she soon discovers there is a new exhibit of a recently assembled 33-foot long authentic fossilized dinosaur skeleton being unveiled at the natural history museum today. This information serves as the determining factor for her outing.

Tanya arrives at the museum early, secures a parking spot and immediately reserves her seat for the unveiling. She wants to be as close to the exhibit as possible. While waiting for the event to begin, she takes note of the exhibit’s massive size and realizes she will not be able to see the whole thing at once unless she trades her current spot for one up on the balcony. If she does however, she will not get to touch actual dinosaur bones for the first time in her life. She can’t decide what to do. Which of the following options would you suggest to Tanya?

A. Keep seated and then walk around the entire dinosaur once it is unveiled.

B. Proceed to the balcony in order to view the entire dinosaur all at once as it is unveiled.

C. Keep seated, walk around the entire dinosaur once it is unveiled, and then proceed to the balcony in order to view the entire dinosaur all at once.

Option C provides Tanya with the most advantageous and comprehensive approach for handling her predicament and it also provides you with the same for evaluating yours. The following is intended to help you apply this approach to evaluating your pastor’s display of public correction.

First, examine your pastor’s actions as if they are part of a large exhibit on display at a museum and you are about to walk around it and observe it in detail. Soon after you begin you come across a series plaques. Each describes a various aspect of your dilemma and includes one of the following questions for you to ask yourself. Did your pastor have a personal relationship with the youth he was correcting? Did he react out of pride, anger, or some other dark motive? Did he go to the cross before he aimed and fired the slingshot of correction? Did he first ask God to correct the youth for Himself? Did he correct the youth in a manner in which you would want yourself or your children to be corrected?

After you finish your close-up inspection, imagine yourself viewing the same exhibit from an overhead balcony. From this perspective, you will be able to see the big picture of it and how the insight you recently gained from your close-up inspection fits within it. Once this image comes into clear view, take note of what you see. There will be a sign directly overhead that says it all. The exhibit that reads “A Christian’s Guidelines for Correcting Others: Matthew 7, 1 Peter 4.”

The next step after viewing the big picture of your pastor’s actions from the balcony is to conduct a re-evaluation of his disconcerting actions. Do so by asking yourself if you believe your pastor followed the guidelines detailed on the exhibit’s plaques when he publicly approached and corrected the rebellious youth. Your intuition will either speak the correct answer directly to you, or else it will subtly nudge you in the right direction to find it.

As your day at the museum of Christian Teachings comes to a close, take time to reflect upon it and remember the following: no matter the situation you may encounter, God will always be watching over it from a better perspective than you could ever hope to have. He faithfully performs His ever-watchful guard duties by keeping a record of all who come and go to it and by apprehending and holding accountable any and all who attempt to come against it. His guard services are free and available to any who ask Him to join their museum’s staff.

ABBIE LONG is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to askabbie@tidewaternews.com