The Cost of Community

The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom
by Jamie Arpin-RicciInterVarsity Press, 2011.
Find this book here

It is not often that I read a book that makes me believe that another way of life is possible. But this is what happened when I read Jamie’s book on community. Not only did I feel inspired and encouraged to keep moving further away from our individualistic culture, but I was struck with the very real challenge of living out the way of Jesus.

In this book, Jamie walks through the teachings of Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount. As he interprets what Jesus is saying for our time, he draws on the story of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as Little Flowers (the intentional community in Winnipeg where Jamie pastors). One can quickly see that the challenges in this book are not simply theoretical for Jamie and his friends at Little Flowers.

Some of Jamie’s core principles of the sermon on the mount are that:

  • Jesus actually meant for us to do what He said
  • the sermon describes Kingdom Character
  • we need to live this Kingdom out in community

There are some very clear and difficult things that we as Christians are actually called to do. As Jesus teaches, His words are aimed at the condition of our hearts. We need to question whether or not we are willing to fully summit to God, allowing Him to use and work through us. It is a transformation with the highest reward, and by reading this book, one is reminded that this life is actually possible.

Notable Quotes:

“[Jesus’] call for us to follow him is immediate and absolute. Just as he called his disciples amid their workplaces, so too he expects that we respond to his calling as our first priority.” (p.27)

“…when God said to his people that ‘there should be no poor among you’ (Deuteronomy 15:4), he wasn’t suggesting segregation.” (p.49)

“The community into which Jesus invites us is beautiful because it is a sacred place - the only place - in which the mourner can truly find comfort.” (p.56)

“As important as it is to confront injustice, our primary means of defeating it is by actively living in the opposite spirit of those who seek to destroy.” (p.74)

“Love. It is toward this end that Jesus has been leading us all along. It is at the heart of his intentions from the dawn of creation and guides us to his final work. Love. Far from mere affection or attraction or loyalty, it is the inconceivable grace in which we are unable and unwilling to distinguish between sister and executioner. Love. It is the offensive grace in which we would extend the hope of forgiveness to both the child and the molester. Love. It is the unparalleled grace in which we find ourselves willing to give even our very lives for others with only a hope, but no promise, that they will repent. Love. It is the cross of Christ. It is Christ.” (p.124)