With, reimagining the way you relate to God. by Skye Jethani. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011.
I was first introduced to Skye Jethani's book With, through a Missions conference talk he gave at Moody in 2010. Skye spoke on the story of the prodigal son and talked about the prodigal son and the elder brother. He pointed out that neither the prodigal son nor the elder brother wanted to be "with" the father. The prodigal son wanted the gifts that the father had but didn't want to be around the Father. The elder brother was working hard for the father, devoting his life to doing what the father wanted him to do, but didn't really know the father, either. But the Father wanted to be with his sons.
The book With expands on this idea. Skye introduces 5 ways of relating to God: Life under God, life over God, life from God, life for God, and life with God. The prodigal son is an example of life over God. Jethani says, "LIFE OVER GOD effectively cuts out the middleman and gives us direct control over our lives"
The elder brother is an example of life for God. Life for God places God's mission over knowing God, Himself. Neither of these ways of relating to God is adequate to give us real inner peace and significance in our lives. Only Life With God, the life God intended for us will bring real hope, faith and love.
The appendix offers specific exercises to encourage a deepening of our communion with God.
This was the most profound book that I read in 2011. This was a game changing book. I recognized so many of my own attitudes in the Life For God chapter. I appreciated the candour and gentleness that Jethani approaches each attitude, pointing out its weak points and leading the reader toward a more balanced view of God and His desire to be "with" his children.
What does Life With God actually look like? Emmanuel. Jesus Christ, God come in the Flesh to be with us. The essence of the Good News of the Kingdom is Jesus Christ. Jethani states,"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."
This is a powerful statement. This book changed the way I think of what the Gospel is. For me it is no longer simply that Jesus died on the cross so that my sins can be forgiven. The gospel is bigger than that. Jesus came to be with us, Emmanuel. But, Christ did not come as “Emmanuel, God with us,” so He could save people from sin. Christ saved people from sin, so that God could be “with us.” Reading this book will give you a broader idea of what the Gospel is and will open for you a new and more intimate way of relating to God.
Thomas Nelson has released the first chapter of With, reimagining the way you relate to God online. Get it here.
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