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Have No Fear, Little Flock

August 13, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 12:49-52 (NRSV)

Jesus said, “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided…”

Read the rest of Luke 12 here.

Focus

If we do not put the kingdom first, then we run the risk of being hypocrites who do things behind closed doors we would not want spoken of openly; of being rich fools who think our own wealth can save us; of being so negligent in stewarding what has been given to us that we miss the signs of where God is at work.

Devotion

No one can pretend this isn’t a difficult Gospel lesson. If you follow Jesus through the Gospels, sooner or later in each one – as we saw in our study of Mark 13 last November – we come to a moment when the same Jesus who comforts little children and speaks of searching for lost lambs also preaches and prophesies about danger, suffering, persecution, and sorrow.

In Luke 12, such prophecies and warnings abound – from the reminder that what we have “whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops” (12:3), to the parable of the rich fool whose life is demanded of him on the very night be builds bigger barns (12:20), to the story of the unfaithful servants which cautions us that “from everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required” (12:48), to the final accusation that no one knows how to interpret the present time (12:56) or what to do about it (12:57). And, of course, there is today’s passage, in which Jesus states he brings not peace but division—even among our own households and families.

Yet, interestingly, these warnings alternate with reassurances. Even the hairs of our head are numbered (12:7); the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say in times of persecution (12:12); we should not worry about what to eat or what to wear (12:22); it is the Father’s “good pleasure” to give us the kingdom (12:32); our Master will return (12:38). How do we reconcile these two messages? How can the same Christ who comforts be the one who brings division?

I think the key is Jesus’s statement in Luke 12:29-34, especially 12:31 and 12:34, which I’ve italicized here:

And do not keep seeking what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that seek all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If we do not put the kingdom first, then we run the risk of being hypocrites who do things behind closed doors we would not want spoken of openly; of being rich fools who think our own wealth can save us; of being so negligent in stewarding what has been given to us that we miss the signs of where God is at work.

The treasures of this world can be used to advance the kingdom—to be sure. But only if we know who is in charge as we use them, and only if we trust him. And choosing whether or not to trust Jesus and value other people, as the warnings in this passage make clear, has eternal stakes. In his famous sermon “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis once wrote:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

We must be alert for our Master’s return. We must treat others as beloved children of God. We must place our treasure, and our trust, in him. Our hearts will follow.

Reflect

Where do you need to be troubled?

Where do you need to be comforted?

Where is God at work in your life?

Act

I first learned the scripture chorus “Have No Fear, Little Flock” when I was quite young. It’s a beautiful expression of our trust in Christ. Rest not in your own strength, but in that trust. (You can read the words to all four verses here.)

Pray

Lord, where my treasure is, there may my heart be also. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Provision (Luke 9:10-17; 12:4-7; 12:22-31)


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