allegory |ˈalɪg(ə)ri|noun ( pl. allegories )a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one: Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey.• a symbol.
Though written as an allegory, sadly the following account is not at all symbolic.
Once upon a time a missionary preached on the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes. He told of how Jesus fed five thousand men and their families from five loaves and two small fish. Only, the missionary had a little different perspective than most. He looked out at the congregation and reminded them of what Jesus said to his disciples before the miracle.
“Give ye them to eat.”
The missionary was fascinated with the Lord’s command to his disciples that they feed the multitude. That night with a sweaty brow and a raspy voice, he charged the church to help feed the multitudes that were starving for God’s Word all around the world. He looked out at the stunned faces in the sanctuary that night and said with an unusual boldness:
“You feed them. It’s your responsibility.”
His heart had been given to a people living in a great spiritual desert and he needed help from his countrymen to point them to Jesus. After the meeting closed, the missionary stayed to counsel with young lives that felt as if the Lord might be calling them to surrender to go and feed the hungry. The church held a special business meeting and determined to support the visiting missionary family. They pledged to begin sending 10 times the financial support that the average church invested in such missions.
The missionary was completely stunned and could only weep tears of gratitude. The fervor that he saw there was rarely seen in those days.
For a couple of years the church faithfully sent the 10 fold gift as promised, until the year came that they didn’t. Without any warning at all, that passionate church sliced their abundance from 10 fold to 6. As the missionary cinched up his belt, he thought that maybe his friends had fallen on hard times. So, he prayed for them. After a while, he thought that corresponding with the church might help. Maybe they were in need. So he sent letters. But no one responded.
“6 fold is still a great blessing,” he thought. I’ll be thankful for what I have even though it is less, it is still much more than I deserve.
A year passed and the missionary drew his belt even tighter. The 6 fold gift had been cut in half and bread began to cost even more. What was he to do? He purposed to write more letters, concerned about both his future and theirs. Perhaps the letters were lost or undelivered the first time. After many attempts he was finally able to speak with the pastor. Sadly, he was of no comfort whatsoever.
Why, his countrymen were fine and in need of nothing. They could never be better, with more and more people filling the pews each week. No, their coffers were still full, but instead of feeding the starving masses in the deserts far away, they thought it more important to feed those closer by. “Though they might not be as famished as those in the desert, we need to feed them more, well, because they just eat more,” said the pastor.
“That’s why we’ve taken food from your table, dear missionary. We need to feed ourselves and those that live in the green pastures more than those that live in the desert. I’m sure that you’ll find someone else to help you. I might even pray about that.”
So, the missionary fed himself and his family and the others that needed to be fed with a much smaller blessing than he ever had before.
And, as another year passed, the blessing that had once been 10 fold, had fallen to only 2.
Once again, no explanation was given. None was needed. He understood completely. The fervor was gone and the passion had faded. The excitement was no longer and the responsibility un-shouldered. Sloughed off, as it were.
As long as no one reminded them of the foreigners in the desert or their ambassador desperately trying to feed them, the missionary’s countrymen were content to fill their barns and fatten up those that lived near by.
On the home front, normality had returned. They still had need of nothing. However, far, far away the missionary slowly bowed his head and said, “Lord, you gave, and Lord you have taken away. Blessed by your name. Please help me do more with 2 fold than I did with 10. Do here, in our desert, like you did in yours with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Help me feed the multitude, and my family too.”
“For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” 1 Cor. 9:9-14