the back rows
Oswald J. Smith draws an analogy between the unengaged and unreached people groups and how Jesus feed the five thousand (Mt. 14:13-21; Mk. 6:30-44; Lk. 9:10-17; Jn. 6:1-15). “When the Lord Jesus Christ fed the five thousand, He had them sit down, row by row, on the green grass. Then He took loaves and fish, blessed them and broke them and gave them to His disciples.” Mt. 14:20 says, “they all ate and were satisfied.” Smith continues; “There was an absolute equal distribution of food. With but few exceptions there has never been an equal distribution since…Those in the front rows are over-fed and they develop spiritual indigestion. They tell the minister how much to feed them, when to feed them, when to stop feeding them, how long to feed them, and what kind of food to feed them, etc., and if he doesn’t do it (their way), they complain and find fault.
Ought we not rather to be training the front rows to share what they have with the back rows, and thus reach them with the gospel?”
These seem like strong words in his analogy, but they correctly challenge our thinking about how we must balance our work in “Jerusalem and/in union with the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). By biblical training those in the front rows, we will have plenty of “sent messengers” with the gospel to the unengaged and unreached.
The Challenge of Mission, Oswald J. Smith, pages 39-40.
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