Book Review: WITH: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Sky Jethani

WITH looks at many of the ways we tend to relate to God, highlighting a number of approaches that often ignore the core of our historic biblical faith.

Sky Jethani suggests the approach or posture to live and walk with God for His own sake, rather than for the advantages we can secure or as a strategy for coping with the fear and unpredictability of life.

Skye describes four common postures in our relationship with God:

  1. Life From God: where people want God’s blessings and gifts without real interest in God himself. The self is the center to which God is ready to be summoned as a cosmic butler to provide comfort, blessing, and validation.
  2. Life Over God: where people seek to discern proven principles and formulas for how God works. These principles and formulas can then be mastered to produce maximum benefit.
  3. Life For God: where people are concerned with how best to serve God. God is often thought—implicitly or explicitly—to require heroic acts of self-sacrifice and service in order to achieve significance and approval.
  4. Life Under God: where people conceive of God in simple cause and effect terms. Obedience = blessing; disobedience = punishment. Proper moral behavior is thought to fundamentally be the key to properly understanding and relating to God.

And yet in each of these four described postures, the desire for God himself is substituted for some lesser thing. Whether mission, blessing, principles, or morality—none of which are harmful or destructive in and of themselves—unless they take the place of God as the actual object of our desire. Each of the four approaches represents an attempt to figure out how God works, what God wants, and how best to respond, but according to Jethani, each response is rooted in the fear of an unpredictable and unmanageable world that we cannot control.

Jethani suggests we move beyond our need for control, beyond our tendencies to be dominated by our fear and uncertainty, to a place where we can confidently live with God, secure in our identity as beloved children, freed from the need to perform, and the desire for the material benefits God can provide. Jethani helpfully summarizes his argument:

The Life With God posture is predicated on the view that relationship is at the core of the cosmos: God the Father with God the Son with God the Holy Spirit. And so we should not be surprised to discover that when God desired to restore his broken relationship with people, he sent his Son to dwell with us. His plan to restore his creation was not to send a list of rules and rituals to follow (Life Under God), nor was it the implementation of useful principles (Life Over God). He did not send a genie to grant us our desires (Life From God), nor did he give us a task to accomplish (Life For God). Instead, God himself came to be with us—to walk with us once again as he had done in Eden in the beginning. Jesus entered into our dark existence to share our broken world and to illuminate a different way forward. His coming was a sudden and glorious catastrophe of good.

Here are some great recent mini video illustrations of these principles:

The Treasure: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God
The Jerks: Life from or Life For God vs Life With God
The Mountain

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