Passage: Luke 12:32
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
As 2021 begins, we are faced with more than enough reasons—humanly speaking—to be anxious, and our surrounding cultural mood only tends to further, rather than alleviate that anxiety. Jesus, on the other hand, consistently commands us not to fear. We will truly stand out and be compelling, then, both as individuals, and as a church community, if we can be a “non-anxious presence” in the midst of an anxious time. To be a “non-anxious presence” we need to understand both what’s underneath our anxiousness, as well as how to address it.
Underneath our anxiety, there is almost always some form of idolatry. Idolatry—which exists in many forms, involves taking some—usually good—desire, and elevating it above our desire for God and his kingdom. In time, our idolatry will always end up making us anxious, because our idols will inevitably come under threat. In Luke 12, Jesus engaged with a man’s idolatry of success, refusing to further it, while also warning his disciples against the idolatry of security/safety, and the worry that comes from it.
Whatever form our idolatry takes, it needs to be addressed at the deepest level, which only happens when we begin to grasp the Father’s heart for us, leading us to worship and in trust him, instead of our idols, and to seek his kingdom first (12:31). As Christians, our closest relationship to God is as beloved children to a Father, and because he is our Father, God protects, provides, and cares for us. Our good, heavenly Father is also incredibly generous, and so, as his “little flock,” it is his “good pleasure” to give us his kingdom (12:32)—that is, every blessing that comes from living under his fatherly rule, as a part of his family, in the new world he is creating. God gave us ultimate proof of his unshakeable desire to give us his kingdom by giving us Jesus, who loved us and gave himself up for us.
To live as a “non-anxious” presence in 2021, let us rest in knowing that we have a good Father, who is irreversibly inclined to give us all we need, starting with his own Son!
- Underneath Our Anxiousness (Luke 12:1; 13-15, 22-23; 31)
- Addressing Our Anxiousness (Luke 12:32)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Luke 12:32)
Underneath Our Anxiousness (Luke 12:1; 13-15, 22-23; 31)
Q) INTRO: What, if anything, are you feeling anxious about at the start of 2021? What are you worried will or won’t happen?
Q) Re-read Luke 12:13-15. What do you think the person in the crowd cared about most? What role did he want Jesus to play in his life? What, if anything, is surprising about Jesus’ response?
Q) In the sermon, Ben said that idolatry is when we take a certain desire of ours and elevate it above our desire for knowing God and extending his kingdom. What idol did Jesus seem to detect in the man, in Luke 12:13-15? Given this definition of idolatry, what idols have you sensed in your own life, in this season?
Q) In the sermon, Ben said that our idols will inevitably end up making us anxious, because before long, our idols will come under threat. In recent months, how have you discerned an idol(s) of yours being threatened? Have you experienced idolatry causing you to feel anxiety?
Addressing Our Anxiousness (Luke 12:32)
Q) Re-read Luke 12:31-32, and meditate on these verses together, particularly verse 32. (To meditate is to think through and experience the verses together, mining them for their meaning and implications). You may reflect on questions like:
- What emotions are these verses designed to stir in us?
- What imagery is used (e.g. “little flock”), and what do you think it’s designed to convey?
- What do these verses communicate about the identity of God? The heart of God?
Q) In the sermon, Ben said that to address our anxiousness at the deepest level, we need to understand God’s fatherly heart for us. What are some barriers for relating to God, first and foremost, as our Father? Why can it be hard for us to relate to God this way, even for those of us who have/had good earthly fathers?
Q) In the sermon, Ben quoted J.I. Packer, who said that the thought of God as our Father is to “control our worship, our prayers, our whole outlook on life”. If we truly believed that God related to us like the Father he is, how might it affect our:
- “Outlook” on life
Q) Re-read Luke 12:32. What does this verse teach us about our heavenly Father’s willingness to give us what we need? Is it your instinct to view God as a Father whose “good pleasure” it is to give us his kingdom? Why or why not?
Q) In the sermon, Ben said that God’s giving us “his kingdom” means giving us every privilege and blessing that comes from living “under his fatherly rule, as a part of his family, in the new world he is creating”. Of the privileges he listed, which of them gives you hope, assurance, and confidence to address your anxiousness at the start of 2021? They were:
- Forgiveness of sins
- A new heart
- Adoption into a family
- Eternal life
- A resurrected body
- A new home, in a new heavens and a new earth
- The presence of the Holy Spirit
Q) The turning point in Luke’s gospel is Luke 9:51, where Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem”—beginning the long journey to his death and resurrection. How do the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son, give us convincing proof of our Father’s heart for us?
Q) What is one specific area this week, where you’d like to embrace the truth that God is your Father, whose good pleasure it is to give you his kingdom?
Q) CASE STUDY: Your friend is considering re-engaging with church a decade after graduating from a Christian college. He was raised in the church, but was turned off by what he felt like was a “cold and “distant” representation of God by his childhood pastor, which in turn (according to him) led to a “cold and distant” relational atmosphere in his childhood church as well. Based on this week’s passage and sermon, how might you encourage your friend?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.