Living in the Mid-South Delta region, we are surrounded by spiritual oppression. I have traveled all through our great country and especially the South, my family and I have been here for 25 years and not much (unfortunately) has changed.

This spiritual oppression, I believe, can best be characterized and revealed in two ways. First, there is the issue of racism. Racism has been around since the development of skin color. No one knows for sure when this happened, some say at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) and others believe it began with Noah's family when the Ark came to rest and the family began to spread out (Genesis 6-9). When and how this happened is not important. It happened and it is beyond our grasp as to when and where.

Racism has kept the Mid-South locked up in hatred and intolerance and locked out of a better quality of life, not to mention the terrible limitations it has imposed upon people on both sides of racism. I think of the many who never reached a fraction of their God-given potential. What a miserable existence this is, knowing one can do more, desiring to do more but never having an opportunity to attempt more.

Racism is kept alive by the repeated cycle of one generation teaching another generation; intolerance, bigotry and hatred, even in mild and sometimes imperceptible ways. Racism happens in every people group and it is not limited to one color against another color, it happens within people groups.

Have we not learned by now that laws cannot change the human heart? The “spirit” of the law seeks to change the heart and mind but it is the “letter” (the penalty) of the law that changes the action or habits. Laws have never changed the human heart, this is the whole point of the Law given by God to His people in the Hebrew Scriptures – laws point to the fact that only God can change the human heart.

The second characterization of this spiritual oppression is revealed in the economic disparity of people. This disparity is thrust upon others by one group or people and even sub-groups of people. Too, sometimes, people keep themselves from participating in commerce, education and new experiences and thus they relegate themselves to economic disadvantages and limited opportunities never reaching a point of self-fulfillment.

Less can be done about those who choose to live on meager means, having their housing, food, cell phone and medical procedures paid for, many are content (it seems) to live on the limited generosity of others. It is as Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you…” (Mark 14:7) Poor in spirit, poor in finances, poor in their outlook of life, poor in selfconfidence, poor in faith, poor in attitude – always we'll have the poor with us. Satan does not want us to see the spiritual battles we are engaged in. He pits one group of people against another. He keeps the fear, animosity and unforgiving spirits alive and thriving within individuals and groups of people. He does not want people reaching their potential for this means he will lose many.

Everything God has created and instituted for the good of humankind, Satan has an almost perfect counterfeit. For love the counterfeit is lust. For forgiveness the counterfeit is revenge. For grace the counterfeit is doing good things. Everything that is good is from God and the devil has counterfeits that are destructive and deadly.

We must reconcile the fact that Christ died for every person with the realities or our lives. To properly reconcile ourselves with others we must first be reconciled with God. Jesus did the work of reconciliation when He gave up His life on the Cross and was resurrected. (Romans 5:11; Ephesians 2:1-13) When Jesus reconciled us with God through His death and resurrection, we should use this to guide us in our relationships, we can reconcile with others. Consider these words of Paul; “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) As Christians we should be different in our relationships. Our culture is not our example! We must diligently work to break the cycle of racism, hatred, unforgiveness, animosity, jealousy and disparity. We may not be able to fix all the problems but we can fix our outlook on others by understanding how Christ viewed us as He died on the Cross. How is your outlook on others, like that of Christ when He looked at you?

Clayton Adams is pastor at Earle First Assembly of God. You can e- mail him at cpalaa@ yahoo. com, or find Earle First Assembly on Facebook.

By Clayton Adams