Interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci Author of “The Cost of Community” – Part 3
As I mentioned before, Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom was one of my top five reads last year. So it is a real honor to be able to interview Jamie on this rich read. Here are the next two questions I asked Jamie.
JR: There are a number of books on the Sermon on the Mount, what is it that makes yours unique?
Jamie: What I think makes this book unique is the two lenses through which we look at the Sermon on the Mount. The first lens is through the life and example of St. Francis of Assisi. While his time and culture were very different than our own, he faced changes that are not unlike the ones we face as the western world enters post-Christendom.
The second lens is our Little Flowers Community, the inner city church plant I pastor. The people who make up our community is rather unique, not always typical of the kind of people you would expect in church. We affectionately call ourselves the “church of misfit toys”. Yet, as we engaged with Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, something connected with us all and our community was caught up in the mission of Jesus.
JR: When you talk about being poor in Spirit, you call us to embrace “sacrificial lives of radical generosity, hospitality and simplicity”. What might this look like practically?
This will look different where ever you are. For example, for us it meant that letting a homeless friend live with us for several months because his mental illness made it difficult for him to stay in shelters. It was not a quick and easy decision, but it was one we could only make because we had built genuine relationship with him. And that was only possible because of where and how we lived.
How that will look is going to be very different for each person and each community. However, it is critical for us to acknowledge that where ever we are, it will be costly, difficult and often counter-cultural. Jesus’ call to be poor is spirit is not an affirmation of poverty, but call to a life that is liberated from the bondage of materialism and consumerism.
Some people praise our courage for sharing life and mission with people in the inner city. While it is challenging, I am more impressed with Christians who live in a suburban context, living the witness of Christ together while resisting the pervasive compromises and pretense that is all too common there. That is a mission field much in need of a community that is poor in spirit.
We will continue this series with part 4 very soon.