Sunday, September 2, 2012

Slave Trade, Pt. I

     As alarming as it may sound, many of our ancestors were directly involved in the slave trade, either as slave owners or as slaves themselves.  In their defense, they were simply immersed in a culture that allowed and encouraged the ownership of human beings for one's personal benefit.  You may be appalled, and probably should be, at the very thought of this.  This is primarily due to the cultural conviction against slavery that prevails in our nation today.
   It's easy for us to take for granted the personal liberties that have been afforded to us by those who were willing to challenge the status quo in their generation.  Thank God for President Abraham Lincoln, who spearheaded the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which paved the way for the eventual liberation of all slaves and the abolition of the slave trade altogether.  And thank God for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who dealt a deadly blow to the spirit of racism in our country in the 1950's and 1960's through his heartfelt speeches, which pleaded the cause of those who were treated as second class citizens.  These men and numerous others have helped level the playing field in our nation in regards to personal dignity in the workplace and in everyday life.
     Although laws have been set in place to prohibit slavery and racial discrimination in our country, there still remains an underlying current of racial bigotry and ungodly control that affects every part of our society, including our churches.  Ungodly control can be defined as influence that is exerted to achieve certain goals without concern for the people utilized to achieve those goals.  Or in other words, the attempt of one person to carry out his or her will through the lives of others without regard for their thoughts, emotions or desires.  It's the epitome of selfishness.
     Laws make it illegal to physically own another person or to discriminate based on the color of one's skin and/or gender, but mechanisms such as emotional manipulation and mental intimidation make it possible for one person to control another.  A stronger word used to describe this process is witchcraft.  Now before you caricaturize witchcraft with an old wart-faced lady with a black kettle, a pointy hat and a broom, take a moment to understand what witchcraft actually is.  It might hit a little closer to home than you think.
     The craft of a witch is to curse or "cast a spell" on someone so that the desire of the witch becomes the reality of the one being cursed.  Under certain circumstances, witchcraft can cause people to believe, to do and to experience things that they would not otherwise embrace without ungodly influence.  This struggle to control others, also known as "mind control," usually stems from insecurity in the heart of the controller.  Without a sense of inner peace, controllers gain a false sense of security by attempting to manipulate people and circumstances outside of their responsibility or jurisdiction.  This is done through the power of words that are sometimes fueled by demonic intention.
     Those operating in witchcraft fear being taken advantage of, and because of this they try to get the upper hand in relationships by exerting dominant influence.  They also tend to struggle with low self-esteem and are ambitiously driven to control others in order to feel better about themselves.  They are committed to achieving their goals regardless of  whose back they feel like they have to walk on.  Jealousy is also a common trait as it causes them to strive to monopolize what doesn't belong to them.  (And for the record, witchcraft knows no gender.  It is an equal opportunity offender.) 
     Mind control is an accurate description of this process because those who are unjustly controlled allow their minds to be altered without processing things for themselves.  Although not verbally explicit, permission is given to the controller to transfer his or her thoughts, emotions and desires to those under their influence.  This can be achieved through personal communication and/or demonically suggested data.  While the aggresor may initiate this transaction, the one being controlled allows this behavior by not "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."  (II Corinthians 10:5)  Therefore, both the controller and the controllee are equally guilty.
     This is a hard pill to swallow because those who are abused are generally classified as the victims in these  "one-sided" relationships.  But the same fear and jealousy that motivates controllers also prepares these "victims" to be manipulated.  Controllers often act as drug dealers, finding something in their possession that others desperately want.  Once they locate something that serves as successful bait, they then use that bait to get others hooked.  But there's always a price to pay for this game of give and take.
     Once a dependency is created for what the controller has to offer, fear begins to grip the heart of the controllee through ongoing conversations and interaction.  Fear develops as one comes to believe that they can't do without the "drug" supplied to them by the controller.  So they determine not to upset the apple cart in any way so as to jeopardize their access to what they desperately want.
     An out-of-control desire for something may draw people into controlling relationships, but fear keeps them trapped within.  Fear causes people to second guess themselves before questioning the controller.  This keeps people from accurate discernment because they refuse to entertain the possibility of dysfunction within their relationship.  And without an ability to perceive reality, it's very difficult to regain one's personal freedom in these situations.
     To bring some balance to this issue, those who try to persuade others in regard to their beliefs and/or practices aren't necessarily operating in witchcraft.  But those whose hearts are insincere and whose motives are conniving can easily slip over into a realm of manipulation and intimidation that invites the influence of the demonic.  It's simply unfair to categorize someone as being controlling just because they may go overboard in trying to get their way.  On the other hand, just because you don't see a pointy hat on someone doesn't necessarily mean that witchcraft is not at work.
     Truthfully, unlike the caricature we typically embrace of the witch concocting a potion in a large black kettle, most witchcraft takes place in the context of everyday relationships.  That's why accurate discernment is so crucial in recognizing the influence that knocks on your door.  Receiving God's wisdom is likewise invaluable to respond accordingly to what comes your way.  Discernment and wisdom are the "1-2 punch" we need to avoid spiralling downward into unhealthy relationships and to recover out of them as well.
     Please understand that there is a vast difference between true leaders who exercise godly control for the benefit of those they serve and those who consistently treat people like commodities, only using them as pawns to achieve their personal agendas.  (And by the way, this is true whether people are in visible leadership roles or not.)  There is also a wide spectrum of those who are somewhere between these two extremes.  Someone may for the most part be a godly leader and yet fall prey to the temptation to take matters into their own hands from time to time by controlling people within their reach.  And yet others may be predominantly controlling and yet have good moments of sincerity bleeding through their selfish endeavors. 
     Not everything or everyone is black or white, no pun intended really.  If the truth were known, we've all been guilty of trying to manipulate others for selfish reasons at one time or another and have been victims of ungodly control too.  But it's an entirely different thing to engage in relationships that consistently smell of ungodly control.  That is very unhealthy!  Wisdom lies in how we respond to situations like these as we become aware of them now and in the future.

Be sure to read Slave Trade, Pt. 2 next week!

(all comments, questions and testimonies are welcome!!)

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