I was quite pleased to discover Skye Jethani’s latest book, With, available for review at BookSneeze.com. It’s one of those which I had become aware of, wanted to read, but was probably never going to get round to buying. Having finished it, I can affirm that it was worth a read and is the kind of book which I might consider recommending to some of the people in my church.
Jethani’s writing is accessible and he explains clearly his thesis that, though there are many postures which the believer might hold in relation to God (life from God, life over God, life for God and life under God), none of these ultimately opens the believer to the invitation of life with God.
It’s not possible in a review of this length to outline each of these postures of faith but suffice to say that Jethani argues that none of the first four – albeit often advocated by communities of faith – offer believers the full vista of the gospel. Indeed, they can become a trap for the unwary, making demands and never offering the possibility of a life of communion with God in Christ.
I felt that Jethani’s argument was suitably nuanced: he does not say that there are not times when each of these understandings of our relationship with God might be true of us. Indeed, he accepts that each of these four postures might reveal some part of the character of God; however, their shortcomings are that they cannot, by themselves, present an accurate picture of God or of relationship with God. Yet, a life with God is a life which ‘sees him as our true desire rather than a device’ to meet some other desire.
This book would not be for those whose theological understanding is relatively developed as you would be likely to find the book’s content too shallow to satisfy. However, I don’t think that it was written for you! I’d suggest that it was written for the average Christian in the pew, the one who knows that their Christian life is somehow not satisfying them yet does not know why; for these people, Jethani brings a clear and perhaps much longed-for message. The gospel is not about trying to live God’s way so he stays happy with us, trying to apply his principles to live successfully or desperately living to impress him with more and more service. Instead, it’s primarily an invitation into relationship, a life lived in communion with God – grace in all its glory.
And for those of us who find the content too shallow to satisfy, there are still two things to get from this book! First, we need to ask whether we have been totally faithful in inviting believers into this life of communion rather than trying to bully our pew-sitters into living for God. (And be honest!) Secondly, perhaps our own lives would be refreshed by a deepened and more sustained reflection on our own life with and in Christ, rather than an endless round of living for him!
Worth a read.
I received a review copy of this e-book for free from BookSneeze.