Week of May 29: Abundant life not measured by amount of material goods


 Rev. Doreen Smalls
Lesson Scripture: Revelation 22:1-9
Our lives are filled with abundance. Most people have more than enough clothes to wear, food to eat and square footage to live in. Many believe that the collection of material possessions or amassing of wealth will lead to happiness or an abundant life. Revelation teaches us that an abundant life is not acquired through the accumulation of wealth but it is a divine gift from God.
God’s Purpose from the Beginning
The last chapters in the Book of Revelation sound very similar to the first chapters in the Book of Genesis. Genesis tells us that God placed trees in the middle of the garden that produced fruit. In the middle of the garden, God planted the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Revelation states, “On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2)
God gave Adam and Eve permission to eat from all the trees except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:8-9). The tree of life, like all other trees with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was given as a gift so persons could experience abundant life. Every provision was made available to them for a prosperous and peaceful life. But they wanted more than what God had given them. Their desire for more led them to sin and they were prohibited from the tree of life.
The tree of life in Revelation suggests that God always wanted human beings to eat the fruit from it. God intended for us to live in peace and harmony. God’s intent for us is good. As Christians, we understand the way to the tree of life is through Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we can have an abundant life. What keeps you from experiencing an abundant life in Christ?
Worship: To Whom It Is and Is Not Due
It seemed respectful that John, the author of Revelation, would bow down to the angel. The text states, “And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words in his book. Worship God!’”(Revelation 22:8) The Greek word for “worship” in this scripture is proskunéson, which means, “to prostrate oneself.” It is an act of total humility and submission. Respect was owed to the angels but worship was not. Worship is reserved for God and God alone.
The Book of Revelation emphasized worship to the true and living God. This was critical for the early church because Christians were confronted with the demands to worship the Roman emperor. Believers were persecuted and tortured for their refusal to worship Caesar.
In the temptation narrative of Jesus in the wilderness, Satan offers Jesus the authority and splendor of all the kingdoms in the world. Jesus replied, “You must worship the Lord your God and serve Him only”(Luke 4:5-9).   Jesus’ words can be traced to Deuteronomy where the people were admonished not to serve or to worship any other gods (Deuteronomy 6:13-14). The author makes it clear that worship belongs to God alone!
We must be reminded that no “other gods” deserve our worship. Often times in our quest for more money, bigger homes and luxury vehicles, our primary focus is no longer God, but it is the acquisition of these earthly treasures. Instead of worshipping God, we begin to worship the material goods.   We should not worship objects; we should worship God.
When we reflect on the grandeur and the goodness of God, worship is an appropriate response.   God’s abundance is always available to us. Every person is blessed by God. How does your worship reflect your appreciation for God’s abundance?
Rev. Doreen Smalls is an associate director at the Office of Connectional Ministries and she serves as Conference Secretary to Global Ministries. If you have any comments or questions, you may contact her at doreen@sgaumc.com.