Defining Conflict

Fairy tales are not written only for children.

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The way people talk and respond to life changes when they realize they are living during wartime. During World War II our parents and grandparents enlisted in military service, planted victory gardens, worked in factories producing armament, and lived under the adage of “loose lips sink ships.”

Whenever the Church either misreads the reality of spiritual warfare or denies its existence altogether, a weak and casual faith emerges putting individuals, families, and entire cultures under the threat of the approaching heels of oppression. Some say our faith should not extend into the civic realm leaving the spheres of culture to the invaders. This denial works until a child returns home from school confused about their personhood or a procedure is done to a child without a parent’s consent. Any enemy would hope their desired target would deny the existence of an invading army until it is too late.  The last couple of sentences you just read is called fear-mongering by some who still hope it all works out without confrontation and conflict. Fairy tales are not written only for children.

Casual and flippant conversations are taking place among some believers who choose to see no conflict and diss those who actually see a battle taking place. The dissing takes place because to recognize the conflict is to invalidate their spiritual insight.

Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). For those engaging in a cultural battle, it is critical to remember the battle is first fought in the spiritual realm and those results will eventually spill over into the Earth where the fruit of battle awaits. Wisdom will always follow the manifestation of earthly evil into the spiritual realm where it can be identified, challenged, and disempowered. That must be our first and primary battlefield. Once that conflict is settled we are then called to administrate that victory in our world.

Real-life, the spiritual kind of life with real consequences both now and for all eternity does not look like the cover of the flesh-forward magazines in the rack at the checkout stand of a supermarket, nor does it resemble some heady out-of-touch interpretation of faith and reality produced by an academic in a university or seminary. Real-life is an ongoing conflict. It is gritty, active, and at times, painful.  A faith that does not extend into this reality is a faith that has lost its bearings.


This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins

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About the Author

Garris Elkins is a Kingdom Winds Contributor. He and his wife, Jan, serve the global Church through writing, speaking, and mentoring. They live in southern Oregon, tucked away in the foothills of the Rogue Valley. Their shared desire is to have each person learn how to hear the heart of God and become a transforming voice in their culture.