Tim Hawkins is passionately committed to seeing teenagers become genuine disciples of Christ. In this book, he examines the Sermon on the Mount to show his readers how to examine their own hearts and motives to establish whether they are truly living for Jesus or for themselves.
Each of the book’s six sections deals with a different part of the sermon. The first, entitled ‘Genuine success’, challenges the reader to redefine success as Jesus does in the Beatitudes. This section ends with two chapters discussing how Christians can have an impact on the world around them.
Having inspired the reader to desire genuine success, the rest of this book goes on to show how they can enjoy this success and make a genuine difference. The main point is that authentic obedience, worship, trust and commitment must all come from the heart. It is not enough simply to do the right things or say the right stuff – rather, it must all flow from a desire to serve God and live for him.
My one reservation about the book is that some of its applications are as confusing as they are helpful. For example, defining success as ‘feeling good because you’re achieving something good’ could lead someone to believe that being a Christian will lead to a permanent state of happiness. Even worse, it could suggest that the ‘feel-good factor’ equates to true spirituality. Potentially confusing conclusions should be especially watched out for in the sections on success and obedience. However, there is a separate 32-page study guide to accompany this book, which pulls out the important aspects of each section in relevant and helpful ways. In my opinion, this would be the best place to start, and willing teenagers could follow up the studies by reading the corresponding chapters in the book. Used in this way, the danger of misunderstanding and confusion is minimised, and the book becomes a useful resource in helping teenagers engage with genuine discipleship.