A Life With God

Since my word for 2023 is with, I enthusiastically dove into With: Reimagining the way you relate to God by Skye Jethani.

The author’s thesis is,

Our true selves cannot be discovered by living under, over, from, or for God. It is something that will be revealed when we are fully with God.1

Jethani breaks each scenario down like this:

Life under God

  • World View: governed by the capricious will of God
  • Core: divine will
  • God: puppet master pulling the strings
  • Asks God: How can I get your blessing?
  • Mitigate Fear: avoid calamity and secure God’s blessings through obedience to rituals and morality
  • Jesus: came to bring a list of rules and rituals to follow
  • Hope: comes from moral certitude
  • Self View: a sinner living under the constant threat of God’s wrath, appeasing God through obedience

Life over God

  • World View: governed by immutable natural laws
  • Core: natural law
  • God: a law maker, a watch maker
  • Asks God: What is the biblical formula?
  • Mitigate Fear: seek control by employing natural laws and divine principles extracted from the Bible
  • Jesus: came to implement useful principles
  • Hope: comes from employing God’s principles
  • Self View: a manager with a divine manual, whose fate rests upon how well I implement it

Life from God

  • World View: the world orbits around self
  • Core: self
  • God: divine butler, cosmic therapist, holy vending machine supplying my needs
  • Asks God: What have you done for me lately?
  • Mitigate Fear: seek control by amassing wealth, health and popularity—from God
  • Jesus: came as a genie to grant our desires
  • Hope: comes from identifying and fulfilling desires
  • Self View: a consumer, demanding everything and everyone to fulfill my expectations

Life for God

  • World View: life is all about accomplishing mission
  • Core: mission
  • God: taskmaster
  • Asks God: What is my mission?
  • Mitigate Fear: seek control by extracting God’s favor through faithful service
  • Jesus: came to give us a task to accomplish
  • Hope: comes from devoting one’s life to a higher purpose
  • Self View: a servant whose value is linked to my ability to accomplish a great mission

I can relate to parts of each scenario. At various times in my life, I thought I could avoid calamity if I only obeyed God (under). I tried to control my life by looking for formulas in God’s “divine manual” (over). I treated God as a holy vending machine to give me what I wanted (from). And I sought to find meaning and hope by devoting my life to his mission (for).

But Jethani points out that while there may be elements of truth in each approach, God designed us to live with him as our treasure.

Life with God

  • World View: treasuring and experiencing God above all
  • Core: relationship
  • God: shepherd, treasure
  • Asks God: How can I be with and treasure you?
  • Mitigate Fear: accepts that control is an illusion and overcomes fears by surrendering to God who is good
  • Jesus: came to restore God’s broken relationship with people and to dwell with us
  • Hope: comes from unity with God
  • Self View: a beloved child of God whose treasure is God himself

But if [our] vision were enlarged and corrected, if [we] could see his unrivaled beauty, grasp his unconditional love, perceive his radiant glory, and experience his untainted goodness, then it would become obvious that he is much more than a deity to simply tolerate or a device to employ. In other words, God would cease to be how we acquire our treasure, and he would become our treasure.2

Jethani suggests a life “with” God “means treasuring, uniting with, and experiencing God in a way that allows faith, hope, and love to flourish in our lives.3 This book helped me to recognize and put words to the faulty ways I find myself and others relating to God and to articulate what’s actually wrong about them. Most importantly, it brought me back again to the true core of my life—treasuring God himself.

  • How do you view the world?
  • What is your core belief?
  • How do you view God?
  • How do you seek to mitigate fear?
  • Who is Jesus to you?
  • What is your hope?
  • How do you view yourself?
  • Ultimately, what is your treasure?


Lord, I want you to be my treasure, to desire nothing on earth besides you (Psalm 73:25–26, Psalm 27:4). Continue to show me where and when my way of relating to you is faulty, and teach me how to live in communion with you.

1 Skye Jethani, With: Reimagining the Way We Relate to God (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 172.

2 Ibid, 103

3 Ibid, 175

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