Review: With by Skye Jethani

What’s it About: In With: Reimagining The Way You Relate to God, discount Skye Jethani outlines the four main postures or ways that most Christians relate to God.

Life Under God — moralism
Life Over God — Christian Deism
Life From God — consumerism
Life For God — ‘mission-ism’

Each of these four postures, according to Skye Jethani, end up being ultimately about our attempt to control God, and to control our lives. In these postures,

God is seen as a means to an end. For example, LIFE FROM GOD uses him to supply our material desires. LIFE OVER GOD uses him as the source of principles or laws. LIFE UNDER GOD tries to manipulate God through obedience to secure blessings and avoid calamity. And LIFE FOR GOD uses him and his mission to gain a sense of direction. (102)

The alternative posture that Jethani proposes is a Life With God. This, he suggests, is the more biblical, and more healthy way of relating to God. Life with God includes three things: treasuring, uniting and experiencing, and all three of these emphasize that a life with God is a life that doesn’t view God as an object to be possessed, but rather, it is a life that seeks to dwell with God. Jethani then further explores this ‘with’ posture by looking at a Life with Faith; a Life with Hope; and a Life with Love.

Notable Quotable:

The reason a great many churches and Christian ministries fail to see people obey Jesus’ instructions is because the people are not living in the LIFE WITH GOD posture. The teachings and commands of the Bible may be communicated powerfully, clearly, and repeatedly, but until people have their vision of the world changed by living in communion with the Good Shepherd, until they experientially know they are safe, they will be incapable of following Christ’s counterintuitive commands. (pg. 127)

Readability: With is written in a very conversational style, with plenty of stories and metaphors. The analogies used are contemporary, and there are quotes not only from spiritual classics (like Henri Nouwen and Brother Lawrence), but also from current blogs (e.g., Kevin DeYoung). Re-tellings of parables like the Prodigal Son are fresh and easy to read.

Who Would Benefit: This book would be great for new Christians, young Christians, or those Christians who have had little introduction to spiritual formation and discipleship. Included in this book are discussion questions for each chapter which would help guide discussion if this book were to be used for a small group.

Who Wouldn’t Benefit: For those who are familiar with spiritual formation books and immersed in strong Christian discipleship, this book may not be particularly helpful, as it covers ideas and concepts found in other works of the same genre.

Rating: 3.5/5

The review copy of this book was provided by Booksneeze. All opinions are my own.

  • Does Jethani see any truth in the four “bad” postures? If God is “Jehovah-jireh,” is it bad to see him as a provider? And is God not in fact the source of moral principles? The psychologist in me of course sees nothing wrong with finding direction in God.

    Where is the line drawn between seeing God in these ways correctly and seeing God in these ways incorrectly?

    • Absolutely there can be some good in each of these, but for the most part, that’s not what we look for.
      For example: the Life From God, is the idea that God is our genie in a bottle. We end up with this “gimme gimme gimme” mentality (aka the ‘health and wealth’/prosperity gospel).

      In the Life under God, it is the “I followed all your rules, now it’s your turn, God; you owe me.” (here Jethani draws on the parable of the Prodigal Son). This posture is also the root of the “All America needs to do to be powerful again is to return to being a ‘Christian’ nation” type of mentality. (here he quotes Jerry Falwell, who blamed ‘sinners’ in America for 9/11. His famous: “You helped this happen.”)