I was running one recent morning listening to the gospel of John. The readings was from John 17, which is the text about Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. Our Lord is very transparent in the prayer about his work on earth and his goals for HIs disciples. He prays for his 12 disciples that he has trained to continue his mission, but he goes on to pray for “those who will believe in me through their word” (John 1:20). As I was listening, I was struck with how I identified so much with Christ in my prayer and work for the Seven Oaks Church of Christ. While, I certainly am not saying I am anywhere close to Christ in his attitude and work, I feel that most preachers have some of the same goals and aims for their congregation that Christ prayed for His disciples.
Here are eight aims I identify with Christ in as a preacher of a local church from John 17.
- Glorifying the Father and the Son (v. 1). Jesus prays that God will glorify Him, so he can glorify the Father. Preachers get “glory” sometimes for a lesson or a good work they have done. While we need lots of encouragement, a preacher should not be focused on his own glory. I pray my aim is to be a reflector! I pray my aim is to give glory to Christ for any good that I accomplish. My aim is for the Father and the Son to get the glory!
- Giving eternal life (v. 2). God gave the authority to give eternal life to all who are in Him. Preachers have the greatest gift to offer everyone–eternal life. We don’t give this on our authority, but we can offer the gospel which gives eternal life.
- Accomplishing the work God sent me to do (v. 4). Jesus says that He glorified the Father while on earth and accomplished the work which God gave him to do. I love this succinct statement of a Christian’s purpose. A preacher doesn’t always know why he has the ministry he does. He may want it to be in a different place, for a bigger church, or in a different field of ministry. But wherever we find ourselves, we need to seek to accomplish the work God has sent us there to do.
- To proclaim Jesus to the people God has given us (v. 6). Jesus says he has manifested the name of God to his disciples. Our aim is to manifest the name of God to the people in our circle of influence. We are to proclaim Jesus.
- Giving the Words that God gave to the listeners (v. 8). Jesus says that He gave his disciples the words that God gave him. As a preacher, my aim is to not preach my own words, but the Word of God. It is not about my soapboxes or favorites self-help topics, but rather to proclaim in an unadulterated fashion the simple Word of God.
- For there to be unity and oneness in the church (v. 11). Jesus prayed that his disciples would be one. One of my aims is to always work for the unity of the church. The church is greater than any one person and that includes the preacher. We must “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
- To keep them from the evil one, while they are in the world (v. 15). Each week the preacher stands before people, who like himself, are struggling with the world. They are entangled in the world. The tempter is attacking them daily. We pray that God will keep them from the evil one!
- To sanctify them in the truth (v. 17). Closely connected to protection from Satan is the need to become sanctified, set apart, or holy in the world. I preach each week trying to help people become closer to God, through His word. The aim is for them to grow in their sanctification!