Mareva Arnaud Tchong, Council of Twelve Apostles
by Mareva M. Arnaud Tchong,
Council of Twelve Apostles
The Gospel of John recorded the fundamental mission of Jesus with this phrase, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” Christ’s mission was to express God’s love in a human form to a world that believed in a quite different God.
In simplest terms, Christ was the human expression of God’s love for the Earth and its entire people, and Christ’s mission was to live that love in the daily walk and events of life.
Community of Christ, in its expression of Christ’s love, is being called to unchain, unleash, and unfetter its understanding and inclusiveness so all people might fully experience all facets of Christ’s love. This will be possible if we imitate God’s generosity. The word imitate used in the text has a profound meaning and significance for the church.
Imitation does not mean a counterfeit or cheap copy. Imitation, in this context, according to the dictionary means, “assumption of the same behavior as observed in another.” That means we are to possess the same nature, have the same attributes, behave, and act in the same way as the One who calls us to follow him.
It is real, genuine. We are to imitate God’s love by expressing a divine generosity in our personal lives, daily events, and interactions with our family, neighbors, strangers, and—according to the gospel—even our enemies. In the world, we are to be a community that imitates the genuine, real, generous, and loving nature of God in relationships with others.
NAKED, DESERTED, and desolate—the wake of Cyclone Oli reflected destruction. The southern islands of French Polynesia were affected most. There was not enough food for people, not enough milk for babies, and not enough blankets for warmth.
The storm destroyed fruit and vegetable plantations. The sea remained rough, so for a time there was no fishing. The only hope was in donations and products delivered by the government and the people of Polynesia.
One person said:
We were on the dock, waiting for the boat that came with basic necessities that would help us to continue, rebuild, and restore what was broken. We were waiting with hope and renewal. While the cargo was slowly approaching, what happiness we felt! There were tears in our eyes when we saw, on the cargo deck, hundreds of boxes stacked on each other, full of food and necessities for our children and seniors. On each box, it was written, “From Community of Christ.” Lord, thank you!
This was not counterfeit. This was a real imitation of Jesus’ life, love, and generosity.
The promise is that in doing this, we will discover life’s meaning. Through this we will find peace and joy. When we align ourselves with God’s purposes, we become a generous people.
How do we imitate God’s generosity? Being a disciple of Jesus, studying his life, acting on the Mission Initiatives, and joining others in serving. These actions give us a basis for understanding what it means to imitate the life of Jesus in our world. In our deepening relationship with Jesus, we walk the path where we come to know the divine meaning of generosity we are called to imitate.
Generosity is love in action. It unites. It expresses the divine intent in living as a community. It acknowledges our interrelatedness. It means we feel responsible for one another, give and receive, honor the gifts of all persons, and respect the unique history, personality, and journey of each person.
It means we walk together as good friends do, listening to each other’s testimony, sharing our hopes and dreams, and bearing each other’s burdens and struggles. These all are part of the grace and generosity of God.
WHEN I returned home after the 2013 World Conference, my brothers and sisters in French Polynesia welcomed me in the traditional way of our customs with singing, shell leis, tears, hugs, and cheek kissing. Later, still according to our cultural traditions, I received a new name. This new name has become significant to all of us.
It is “PouMarama,” which means “pillar of light.” I hold that name as a privilege and a challenge. We all are called to be humble pillars of light in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that all might “come home to God’s grace and generosity.”
My soul’s deepest yearnings are met when I am with my generous, loving, and faithful brothers and sisters in New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Hawaii, French Polynesia, and around the world. Among these people I feel God’s grace and generosity. I feel home.
I reflect on the deep joy and fulfillment of my life as I minister and witness of Jesus Christ among members of “the islands of the sea.” I believe I hear their message and challenge to the worldwide church.
We have discovered the great joy in living with a spirit of generosity and hospitality. We have found that making our homes and congregations loving centers of hospitality and being generous with friends and strangers have brought great joy and testimonies. We feel the truth of our prophet when he said, “…follow your soul’s yearning to come home to God’s grace and generosity.”
To each congregation, mission center, apostolic field, nation, and people, the challenge is to discover your unique testimony that fulfills the message of Christ and gives meaning and divine purpose to all lives.
If each lives a life of generosity that “imitates God’s generosity,” it will be an expression of God’s love and a living testimony of the kingdom of God on Earth. May the congregations of the church live generously and be known as communities living fully and generously with
For Further Reflection
Where and when did you recognize God in your life?
In whom have you seen the imitation of Christ?
Is there a congregation in your experience that lives a life of corporate generosity?
Prayer to Consider Consciousness
Be silent and turn your attention to God. Humbly ask God to help you remember clearly and honestly your day. Silent moment.
Express your gratitude for the many blessings present in your life and of this day. Pause in prayer.
Review your day by understanding the presence of God. Think about your activities, conversations, thoughts, and feelings. Silent moment of reflection.
Bask in God’s merciful love, and the words and actions of the day. Pause.
Leave the day of God’s grace and turn to the next day. Fix your attention to be more aware of God’s presence and to live a better day, sharing generously the testimonies of Jesus in your life and actions of love and peace while expressing fair and positive feelings. Consider life as Jesus would live. Silence.
End your prayer with gratitude for the gift of this day and commit yourself to becoming more generous by sharing and implementing God’s generosity in the days to come.