WORD FROM THE PASTOR:

The Curse
             In the wake of the horrific shooting in Colorado, numerous articles speculated that there is a “curse” on Christopher Nolan’s series of “Batman” films. After all, the films have been plagued with tragedy. Heath Ledger died of a drug overdose after filming the role of The Joker in “The Dark Knight”. During the making of that same film, a stunt man was killed. Morgan Freeman was seriously injured in an auto accident after the movie was finished. During the filming of “The Dark Knight Rises”, a stunt double was injured and some expensive equipment destroyed. And capping it all off, of course, is the murder of 12 and the wounding of 59 people during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”.
            The supposed “Batman” curse is not the only one involving superheroes. Two of the actors who played “Superman” met tragic fates–George Reeves died by his own hand, while Christopher Reeve became quadriplegic after a horse riding accident. And the recent “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” Broadway show was so plagued by accidents that many people felt the show was under a curse.
            Sports also has its share of curses. “The Curse of the Bambino” was used to explain the hard luck the Boston Red Sox experienced after trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees (that curse endured from 1920 to 2004, when the Sox finally won a World Series). The Chicago Cubs have labored under the “Billy Goat” curse since their last World Series appearance in 1945–a local restauranteur’s pet goat was ejected from Wrigley Field, and supposedly the restauranteur put a hex on the Cubs. They haven’t made it to the Series since.
            There’s also the “Kennedy curse”–the seemingly endless tragedy visited upon America’s “Camelot” family. The granddaddy of all curses is, of course, that of King Tut–about a dozen of the people who opened his tomb died prematurely under mysterious circumstances.
            “I put a spell on you,” cried Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in a classic recording. But can people actually have spells put on them? Is there such a thing as a curse, a hex, a “whammy”l? As a Christian, I would tend to say no. The idea of a “curse” kind of assumes that the world operates under the influence of mysterious, anonymous supernatural forces that can be controlled by things like magic words, magic potions, voodoo dolls, etc. The Christian belief, however, is that God is in control of all things. “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29). God is deeply involved in everything that happens–either causing it or allowing it. That doesn’t leave much room for anonymous, impersonal hexes. The idea of curses makes for entertaining viewing–I love “hex” movies like “Curse of the Demon”, “Drag Me to Hell”, “Burn, Witch, Burn”–but in reality, God is in control of all things.
            Think about what happened to Job. Looking at Job from the outside, one might think someone had “put a spell” on him. In rapid succession, he lost his property, his family, his health. A curse indeed! But there was no “curse”–God was permitting these things to happen to test and try Job’s faith.
            There’s one scene in the Bible where someone tries to “put a spell on” the people of Israel. (Numbers 22-24). The king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel. But Balaam ultimately could not put a whammy on Israel. “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how can I denounce whom the lord has not denounced?” he said. And then he went on to bless Israel rather than cursing her. The King of Moab cried out, “What have you done? I took you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have actually blessed them!” If God doesn’t want somebody cursed, they’re not going to be cursed!
            The only real curse we find in the Bible is the punishment for sin. God said to Israel, “I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, and the curse if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). Actually, the entire world falls under this curse. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God told them, “Cursed be the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17 ) The whole universe is under a curse that flows from sin–the universe is alienated from God. Because of original sin, this world is a hard and harsh place. There is a curse, but it doesn’t come from a witch doctor or a voodoo doll or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins–it flows from the fact that we have fallen into sin.
            So it was a curse that caused a madman to shoot up a movie theater and snuff out twelve precious lives. But the curse was not on the Batman franchise. The curse was on the entire universe–the alienation from God, the original sin that warps and distorts the world in which we live.
            Jesus came to deliver us from this curse. In the movies a curse is broken when the voodoo doll or other hex object is found and destroyed. But Jesus saves us from the curse of sin by allowing the curse to fall upon Himself. Of all human beings who ever lived, He’s the one who should escape the curse–because He is sinless, He is indeed God and man in one
person. And yet the Bible tells us that the curse fell crushingly upon Him:
            Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–
as it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree...” (Galatians 3:13).

On the cross, He took upon Himself the curse–the separation from God that is the true curse of sin. We see the full weight of the curse when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). He absorbed fully the curse of sin.
            When we believe in the crucified and risen Lord, the curse is lifted from us. We no longer are separated from God, but rather are welcomed into a close personal relationship with God. And when Jesus returns, the curse will be finally and definitively lifted: of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Bible says: “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it...” (Revelation 22:3).
            The world was indeed cursed–but the spell has been broken by the precious blood of Jesus!
            God loves you and so do I!

Vol. 83 - No. 8
AUGUST 2012