The central premise—what you’ll want to pick this up for if you choose to do so—is that we tend to try to approach, or rather manipulate, God’s will for us in one of four ways:
Life From God—seeking God’s blessing and gifts rather than God Himself (example: the “prosperity gospel”)
Life Over God—abandoning God’s leading for human strategies and formulas (megachurches, certain publishers we’ll get to below)
Life Under God—the reasoning that says “If I’m/we’re obedient, God will bless me/us.” (i.e., the God Is an American crowd)
Life For God—those seeking “purpose” in their lives by serving God, and thus who also tend to be perpetually frustrated by those who don’t (Admittedly, this was the chapter where I felt most convicted, and hoped this was where the book would go to another level.)
In contrast to these approaches, Christianity is to be a relationship, a Life with God. Jethani explores this aspect in the second half of the book. He tries to describe this relationship in terms of faith, hope, and love.
While I liked the book and found it thought provoking, I found the first half more helpful than the second half. I think the author is on target in describing the mistaken approaches we use to relate to God. However, I think his description of a vital and healthy relationship with God does not go far enough. I was struck that the challenge of a relationship with God is that it is often easier to describe what it is not rather than what it is.
While I think the book fell a bit short, I did find it encouraging and helpful. It caused me to think about my own relationship with God. And for that, I am grateful.
“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)