“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
“There is nothing waiting out there, Mr. Potter.” -Dolores Umbridge
I’m reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and I’m rather surprised by what I’m finding. I was pretty young when the initial debate over Harry Potter broke out among the evangelical community and wasn’t allowed to read the books. But even after the frenzy died down and even the most cautious began to realize these stories were not actually satanic, I had no particular desire to read the books or watch the movies. Then a few months ago I decided to give the series a chance.
I was particularly intrigued by the symbolism I found in some of the stories. I am currently on the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in which (by the way, SPOILER ALERT!) the Ministry of Magic fervently denies the return of the Dark Lord Voldemort. In this book, Harry’s life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry changes because Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic and Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts is doing everything within her power to prevent her students from using magic at a time when they need it the most. Despite Harry’s and Professor Dumbledore’s warnings of an ensuing war, Umbridge and the rest of the Ministry insist that if everyone simply does their work and behaves themselves, everything will be fine. I’d imagine most of you have heard that before. If you would just follow the rules and do your best to make everyone happy, everything is peachy. How often are we told this in church?
Well, I’ve got news for you. It’s a lie. A bold-faced lie. There is an enemy out there. And he will do whatever he can to ruin lives and condemn souls. He would like nothing more than for the church, the only thing on earth standing in his way, to grow complacent.
Christians are, in a sense, like wizards. We have a mission from God to defend the world from the forces of evil and with that mission comes the power of God, which makes it possible. But we’ve forgotten our purpose. We think church is about reciting doctrinal statements and following a list of do’s and don’ts. Doctrine is indispensable, but it’s also useless without the proper application. Is the Word of God actually making a difference in our lives?
In the book, there are a few students who ignore the lies the Ministry tells. They form Dumbledore’s Army and begin practicing defensive magic in secret. I believe there is an army within the church as well. It is comprised of those who believe in the power of the enemy but also in the much greater power of our God.
In an earlier book, Dumbledore says, “you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me.” There are always some who remain true to Dumbledore despite the evil around them, and I find it interesting that they call themselves “The Order of the Phoenix.” The phoenix is a magical bird that dies in a burst of flame but is born again from the ashes. We serve a savior who died and was raised again. Are you a part of his order? Going to church does not make you a member. Neither does following the Ten Commandents. Only those loyal to the risen savior and willing to fight and die for him will be counted as his followers.