Most people around the world, including the majority of Christians, do not properly relate to God. They relate to God out of a world-view of fear and are driven by the need to control their world. This is the claim that Skye Jethani makes in his book, With: Reimaging the Way You Relate to God.
In this book, Jethani claims that most people relate to God in one of four ways. The first way is Life Under God. I this relationship, God needs to be appeased and His anger controlled through sacrifice or certain behavior patterns. This was the prevalent religion of the ancient world, but still manifests itself today, even in many Christian circles. God is depicted as being angry, and if not appeased will crush us in his wrath. Thus, the seeker attempts to control God’s anger through service, sacrifice or other religious rituals.
The second view of God is in a mindset called Life Over God. In this mindset, God, if he exists at all, is a celestial watchmaker who wound up the universe and assigned certain laws, and then stepped back and to let it run on its own. As long as we live within the laws, then everything works out fine. The atheist and agnostic operate totally within the Love Over God mindset, believing that everything that happens is due to natural laws that have evolved over time. But even Christians, including many Christian leaders, operate under this same assumption. They believe that God has put in place certain laws of leadership, or biblical principles, or universal rules of the game that, if followed, will guarantee success in ministry or business.
The third view of God is called Life From God. This viewpoint views God as a vending machine which, if manipulated correctly, gives us what we want or need. This person serves God as long as their needs or wants are being met and assumes that, as long as God is happy and they live by the rules, all will go well with them. In the end, they become bitter and disappointed when life deals them a bad hand, assuming that God did not live up to His end of the deal.
The forth and final view is called Life For God. These are the people who serve God largely through guilt and intimidation. They feel that unless they are successful in doing good things for God, their lives are worthless. Many sincere Christians live a life of constant activity and running, doing work for God because they believe that this is what is expected of them. And, sadly, many churches use, abuse and wear down these sincere but exhausted followers.
All four of these mindsets, Jethani claims, rather than removing the follower’s fear, actually accentuates it. All four mindsets fail in their attempt to relate to God, and end up actually pushing the seeker further away from God and deeper into despair.
After presenting these four prevalent views of relating to God, Jethani then presents what he believes to be the best and biblical mindset: Life With God. In this mindset, the fear of failure, the fear of death, the fear of not having enough, the fear of not pleasing God are removed. God is sought solely for the purpose of knowing and loving Him. When this happens, the Christian is free to do God’s will because God’s will is done out of a heart of gratitude and love, not a heart of fear. Living Life With God allows the Christian to, as Tim Keller said in his book, King’s Cross, enter into the divine dance with the Trinity, moving in step with God rather than trying to go it alone. This Life With God is a perfect harmony of faith, hope and love – a life of total dependence on the One who died for us to set us free, not to add to the weight of the demands of false religion.
Find the book here: http://www.familychristian.com/with-reimagining-the-way-you-relate-to-god.html