After reading Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts by Robert Jones, three words come to mind: biblical, practical, and hopeful. Biblical counselors routinely deal with conflict situations. This is, unfortunately, part of living in the sin-cursed world. Myriads of concepts exist in this world about responsibility and resolution in such instances. Dr. Jones helps to wipe away the haze of our own sin and the conflicting theories of the world that distort our vision to present a biblical and practical guide to seeking peace in any relationship. It will certainly be useful to many.Dr. Jones skillfully exegetes passage after passage and examines biblical character after character in order to help the reader see how Scripture calls us to peace and equips us to pursue it. Click To Tweet
First, Pursuing Peace is solidly biblical. Dr. Jones opens with the thorough applicability of Scripture: “In short, the Scriptures breathe conflict out of every pore” (p. 18; cf. 2 Peter 1:3). He then correctly demonstrates that, “the proper starting place to think biblically about pursuing peace is God” (p. 19). He points out that no true and lasting peace can exist between parties unless they first have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2). Dr. Jones skillfully exegetes passage after passage and examines biblical character after character in order to help the reader see how Scripture calls us to peace and equips us to pursue it. One of the passages Dr. Jones examines is James 4. He correctly surmised, “if the problem is not with the object, what is it? In verse 1 James says that conflicts come from our desires that ‘battle’ within us. James uses military imagery to picture desires at war” (p. 61). Dr. Jones helps bring James 1 to life and show the heart motives behind our conflict.
Next, Pursuing Peace is very practical. One can tell that Dr. Jones has done his share of counseling, because at the end each section there is . . . dreaded homework! While some may cringe at these words, the counselor rejoices because he/she knows that solid biblical homework is a powerful tool which God routinely uses to change hearts and lives. Not only is there homework in each section, but Dr. Jones also makes it a point to provide many step-by-step instructions about how to address conflict. For example, on page 30, he titles the section: “Realize that Conflicts are Inevitable; Therefore Expect Them.” I, while fully agreeing with the depravity of man (Psalm 14; 1 John 1:8), had not thought of conflict this way. I generally expect things to go well and am surprised when conflict arises. Another example occurs on page 118, where Dr. Jones addresses the “put off/put on” principles of Scripture. In this section, he provides nine “practical put-on steps” and gives explicit instruction about what to do. Dr. Jones effectively weaves practical and comprehensive steps to resolve conflict from beginning to end.
The last concept which stood out to me was that the book is full of hope. Most of us dread conflict and, at times, may want to cry out like David in Psalm 13:1, “How long, O Lord?” Dr. Jones, who struck me as a true under-Shepherd of God, does not leave the reader in despair. Not only does he provide practical tools to resolve the issues, but he also reminds the reader of the immense hope we have in Christ. On page 50, for example, he writes, “there is not a person on the planet—including our most vicious enemy or the worst boss, roommate, or ex-spouse—who can stop us from pleasing our Lord!” He also provides a number of examples where people he has counseled have reconciled and rejoiced in both God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness He equips us to give. He concludes with hope from Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (p. 195).
Pursuing Peace is biblical, practical, and full of hope. It will, no doubt, be a useful tool for any Christian who uses it. It will also be a key tool in the toolbelt of disciplers as we seek to help our brothers and sisters in Christ grow and please Him (Galatians 6:1-3).