My friend Jamie Arpin-Ricci’s book “The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom” is one of the best books on the Sermon on the Mount that I have ever read.
This little excerpt that I offer here during Easter week was, at the time, extremely difficult to read. Quite frankly it sucked. It is still difficult to read. But it is important to read it. It’s not about being overly spiritual. It’s not about being the perfect Christian drowning in a sea of cliche. It’s not about jumping on the ethical train of Jesus and being legalistic. Rather, I believe it to be a deep truth that says grace and mercy doesn’t come cheap. A good reminder this Easter season. The Palm Sunday Jesus reminds us that grace, mercy, discipleship and actually following Jesus to the cross and likewise bearing our own cross is no easy task. It is central to the gift which is indeed ‘unmerited.’
The cost of the cross is far greater than we can understand, but we are blessed to be able to receive its ever-present gift. I offer this below with humility.
The very grace that led Christ to suffer death for our sake is the same grace that is extended to us every day as we clumsily and imperfectly attempt to be his salt and light to the world. This is not a license to sin or to remain casual in our commitment to righteousness and justice. Far from it! In fact, it is the unparalleled nature of that mercy and grace that drives us to ever deeper devotion, humility, repentance, sacrifice, service and love, both to God and to others. Otherwise we use Christ’s entire life, including his brutal suffering and death, as a convenience against our own casual pattern of selfishness and sin, crucifying him anew each time. Instead, we are called to obediently take up our cross daily and die to our sin, humbled at the unmerited gift it represents.
The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom – page 105.