We have thought about the complexity and diversity of our listeners when preaching. There are too many of us that would preach the same no matter who was before us. We need to take seriously the need for analysis and understanding of our audiences. Who am I preaching to? Who is listening?
We have thought about building up believers and reaching lost souls with the gospel. We have thought about the impact of that ministry on the unseen forces of good and evil. But there is one more listener:
5. God Himself. Seems obvious, but how easily I can forget. It is easy to preach as if God is a monadic and distant being, One whom I represent and fear in equal measure. One who will evaluate my offering and find me wanting. But what if we think about preaching from a trinitarian perspective?
The Father always delights to talk about the Son. I get to join that familial delight as I preach of that same Son. The Son always thrills to obey the Father’s will. I get to participate in that trinitarian submission and obedience as I serve alongside Christ, my brother, sacrificing self in order to please the Father. And there is the Spirit, the active communicator, but never the focus. I get to do ministry that is not about my efforts, but instead is fully alive because the Spirit is at work in me.
And all along, God is listening. He delights to hear of His Son. He enjoys seeing me serve Him with the Son whom He loves. God listens. And God cares.
God cares about every other listener, more than I ever could. He cares about me, more than I could ever deserve. He cares about this unique moment of ministry. I’ve been planning for a couple of weeks, but God knew about this moment and the work He would do from the beginning of time.
God wants us to target our messages at the people before us, but there is an unseen realm of listening ears. Frightening foes, powerful spiritual servants, and the wonderful God who hears, who sees, who cares, and who changes lives . . . even with us doing the preaching!