Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 181 pages
Katie Hays’ God Gets Everything God Wants is an enriching book that invites readers in with a voice that is welcoming, knowledgeable and familial. In “GGEGW” (as Hays abbreviates her title), the “One Big Idea” she promotes is that “God gets (has gotten, is getting, will get) everything God wants” — and what God wants is you!
Hays argues that, in the Hebrew Bible, God has gotten what God wants while the New Testament reveals God actively getting what God wants. By skillfully utilizing “GGEGW” as the “One Big Idea,” Hays establishes a safe space within her pages for those disillusioned with the Christian church by using the example of Jesus embracing outcasts and sinners and welcoming them into the reign of God.
Hays’ southern dialect and familial diction form an intimate conversation with the reader rather than a formal textbook or lecture, which further contribute to the safe space she creates in her book. She relies on personal questions to include readers in the discussion, reducing the possibility of anxiety or doubt that can come with the gravity of her subject.
Hays’ compassionate and reassuring tone are particularly helpful as she discusses baptism, explaining just why it’s about God’s grace rather than the “perfection” of the one being baptized. She writes, “if we filled up this cattle trough and dunked you right now, with your head and heart filled to the brim with everything you’ve unlearned and relearned about God, the universe, and everything, you’d be right back here in five or ten or twenty years, saying you didn’t know a damn thing today. God is always going to be showing us something new we couldn’t have understood before … You don’t need a new baptism. You just need to grow into the one you’ve already got.”
I would love to see everyone read God Gets Everything God Wants. However, I can also see how its relaxed tone and open ideas could be unsettling to some traditional Christians. Hays speaks to an audience that feels cast out or even spiritually wounded by their church, arguing that God’s acceptance is bigger and broader. As Hays states, God welcomes our complete selves: “your way of being, your way of thinking, your way of voting, your way of asking pesky questions that unsettle what has long been settled.”
I have already recommended this book to a handful of people as an intriguing alternative to traditional Christianity, and it is a great fit for young adults and others disillusioned with their denomination but still seeking God. In a time of adaptation, growth and diversity it is high time that Christianity adapts, grows and embraces diversity.
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Brian Wilken is a senior studying English at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. He enjoys reading and model railroading.