“Tough relationships are inevitable,” writes Brian Noble at the outset of Living Reconciled. This is because sin alienates people both from God and from one another. If we don’t want to experience alienation, then our sin must be dealt with.
The good news is that God has already done this. He “reconciled us to himself through Christ,” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:18. That reconciliation comes with a commission. As Paul concludes verse 18, “[God] gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
The primary direction of that ministry is Godward. “Be reconciled to God,” Paul writes in verse 20. Inevitably, however, reconciliation moves toward our relationships with others. Reconciled to God, we reconcile with others. By doing so, we apply the gospel to day-to-day concerns. “At your greatest point of injustice is your greatest opportunity for Christlikeness,” writes Noble.
Living Reconciled is a book-length meditation on 2 Corinthians 5. It identifies seven attitudes that characterize Christians committed to the ministry of reconciliation:
- I am controlled by Christ’s love.
- I no longer live for myself.
- I recognize no one according to the flesh.
- I see others as brand new.
- I have a ministry.
- I have stopped counting people’s offenses.
- I am a reconciler.
Noble shows how each attitude is rooted in 2 Corinthians 5 but consistent with the broader message of Scripture, too. Along the way, he both informs readers of what gospel-centered relationships look like and inspires them to lean into that good news.
Noble’s advice is also field-tested. He is CEO and executive director of Peacemaker Ministries, a Christian conflict resolution ministry, as well as executive pastor of Valley Assembly (AG) in Spokane, Washington. Both roles offer a proving ground for the application of biblical principles to marriage, personal relationships, and church conflicts.
Living Reconciled includes review and discussion material at the end of each chapter, as well as a 31-day devotional titled “Why Be Reconciled?” at the end of the book. These features make the book useful for both individual and small group study.
Enterprising preachers might even consider using Noble’s seven attitudes as the outline of an expository series on 2 Corinthians 5. Combined with church members reading the book in small groups, such a series could help people make peace with God and one another.
Although Living Reconciled does not directly address the kind of social conflicts Americans have experienced over the past two years, what it says about personal conflicts is both a necessary and welcome first step in that direction. “Injustice will come,” writes Noble in the book’s final words, “and you can still practice righteousness.”
Brian Noble, Living Reconciled: 7 Ways to Bring Peace to Your Most Difficult Relationships (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2022).
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P.P.S. This review is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com by permission. It appears in the winter 2022 issue of the magazine.