Fear Not, Little Flock
In a recent study, 50% of adults ages 18-24 were found to have anxiety. It drops down to 38% for ages 25-49, continues to drop to 29% for those that are 50-64, and finally the percentage drops to 20% for those 65 and older. There are many reasons why anxiety has become an increasing epidemic amongst us, but I find it more helpful to look at the remedy than search the endless opinions to why this is increasing.
In Luke 12, there is a passage that is meant to move our hearts from anxiety and worry to trust. Before I get to that passage, I want to set up some of what Jesus previously said so that we can know that anxiety is not limited to our day and age, but is an old thorn that has poked at people for centuries. Speaking to thousands of people (Luke 12:1), Jesus begins to address the topic of fear (which I find almost synonymous with anxiety) in Luke 12:4-7. In short, Jesus is saying that if we fear God, we need not fear anyone or anything else.
After explaining to the thousands that trusting him before authorities is a picture of us trusting him, Jesus goes on to tell a parable of a rich man who stored up his treasures on earth trusting in his possessions, only to die that very night (12:13-21). In contrast to the rich man, Jesus looks at these thousands of people and knows their hearts. They are burdened with anxiety over their daily needs (kind of like living in California).
As Jesus often does, he asks questions that bring out what lives deep inside our hearts. He asks piercing questions like, "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life" (12:25). The truth is, studies show that anxiety robs us of our days. Jesus goes on and famously uses his creation as an example of his care for his people by saying, "Consider the ravens" (12:24) and "Consider the lilies" (12:27). His main point in using these illustrations is, "If God provides for these birds and flowers, how much more for those that are created in his image? How much more for those that I will lay down my life for?"
In his closing attempt to quiet fears and anxieties, Jesus says something that is not only the remedy for anxiety but a set of words meant to open our eyes to the heart of our Father in heaven. Jesus looks at this crowd of thousands burdened with fears and anxieties and says, "Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (12:32). Take a moment, close your eyes, and think about those words. Seriously, do it.
What do the words of Jesus about our Father's good pleasure reveal about his heart? He isn't speaking to the rich and the successful, but to a little flock. A little flock that seems small and insignificant, burdened with worries and anxieties. It is his good pleasure to give his little flock the kingdom, meaning he doesn't hand it over begrudgingly because of our fears and anxieties. His heart is so generous and full of mercy that he overflows with joy in giving us his kingdom. Is this how you view our Father?
The sweetest part about this is that the kingdom he gives to us he first gives to his Son (Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 22:29-30). And unlike us, a little flock of sheep riddled with fear and anxiety, Jesus came as the Good Shepherd on a mission to purchase this flock for himself. And the price of securing the kingdom for his little flock was his own life. In John 10, Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." On the cross, Jesus was securing the kingdom for his sheep because it was his Father's good pleasure to give up his Son for fearful and anxious sheep (Rom. 8:32). And the greatest fear and anxiety of all, paying for our own sins for all eternity, has been wiped completely off the table for God's little flock.
What does this all mean? In short, our anxieties are often fears of what might happen. But the cross and resurrection have taken the biggest "what if" completely away. Truth be told, this should make us the most trusting of people when it comes to entrusting our life to the Good Shepherd. Yet, he knows we still struggle. The Apostle Peter, speaking to exiles burdened with worries like us today, calling all Christ's sheep to "cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
Kaleo, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you his kingdom. It is the Son's joy to shepherd you through fear and anxiety. And it is the Spirit's joy to help you and comfort you along the way. Let us cast our anxieties on Jesus today. Why? Because he cares for you.