Some say the Sermon on the Mount are the most important words Jesus spoke and we should shape our lives by them. Some think the words are too hard to even consider.
Harris suggests, “Yes, they are too hard but by God's blessing and grace we must try to keep them.” (11) He is convinced we must take these words as a rule of life.
He shares his journey of discovery and invites the reader to come alongside. He goes through the Scripture in sections. He notes that, while there are commandments, it starts with blessings. Harris believes, “it's impossible to live out the Sermon on the Mount if we don't first understand that we are loved and blessed by God.” (33) He touches on the various topics addressed: lust, foul language, lying, revenge, wanting to be seen, and judging. He adds personal experiences and stories to illustrate his teaching.
He suggests memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. “...[I]t gets into you, “ he writes, “in ways it doesn't when you just read it.”
He gives the example of a community he created on the college campus where he teaches. The students in the community commit to live out the Sermon on the Mount. Harris also gives ideas for creating such a community, suggesting the use of the DVD series of the book.
This book can stand alone or be used along with the DVD as a field manual for groups and individuals. Each chapter has “Discussing What Jesus Says,” and then “Doing What Jesus Says.” There are some practical suggestions and strategies included in them.
While an individual would be rewarded by reading this book, I think it would best be used in a discussion group setting.
Harris encourages the reader to make a decision. “The sermon is not a body of material to be cognitively mastered. It's a life to be lived.” (20) Jesus offers a different way. What kind of person will you be?
Watch a short video about the DVD series here.
Randy Harris is a professor of theology, ethics, and preaching at Abilene Christian University, author and popular speaker.
Greg Taylor is a writer and pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Leafwood Publishers, 150 pages.
Please visit your local Christian bookstore to buy this book
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.