It seems that the world has gone wild about Harry again … because the one-two combination of the movie/book release has put the spell of Potter-mania on the muggle world – driving the multitudes to the multiplexes and boatloads to the bookstores.
No matter how you feel about the "rightness" or "wrongness" of reading/watching the adventures from J.K. Rowling, it is pretty much impossible to miss the gi-hugous part of culture it's become over the last several years. It seems like everywhere you turn there's a Harry here, Harry there, Harry Potter everywhere.
Almost like magic!
The latest film installment is The Order of the Phoenix, which evidently is considered one of the weakest in the series – but I personally see it as the critical turning point where the mostly-innocent-whimsical-magical world of the Sorcerer's Stone has disappeared in the rear view mirror as a much darker and troublesome landscape enters our horizon. From the opening scene to the climactic ending battle, quidditch matches are replaced with heavy duty fighting, and the seemingly inseparable trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermoine hit the rough seas of adolescence and many a storm breaks out.
Yet one thing definitely remains the same – which is the overarching "good vs. evil" theme that keeps boiling down to deeper levels of eeeeee-vil and raising up higher and higher stakes each time. Obviously Voldemort is back (once again mostly missing a nose …. Is there just not enough cash in the budget to give the poor guy at least a CGI schnozzola???).
Without giving too much away, I noticed a key element in The Order of the Phoenix fantasy world that instantly connected with the calling of the Christian in the real world. In the film, Harry forms a group called Dumbledore's Army, basically because the new Defense Against Dark Arts teacher is completely worthless and is actually hurting the students' chances of successfully fighting Voldemort and his army. In a nutshell, Harry is running his own "Defense" class so he and his friends are prepared for the imminent attacks that are sure to come.
Again, this is fantasy. Dumbledore is fantasy. Hogwarts is fantasy. Voldemort's nose is fantasy (o.k., I'll let it go).
What is NOT fantasy is the battle against real evil and the real attacks that are coming your way in a real world near you. So you need your own defense against not dark arts but Satanic attacks. These assaults have plagued the human race since the-man-without-a-bellybutton and his (literal) better half named Eve ate from the WAY wrong tree (i.e. Genesis 3). For thousands of years the children of God have been in the crosshairs of Satan, and it is only going to get worse.
Fortunately, you don't need to be a whiz kid or even a wizard for that matter to defend yourself. In fact, the Bible lays out our Defense Against Satanic Attacks in one passage:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
This isn't a frog spawn-potion-divination kind of thing. In fact, this isn't magic at all. This is a spiritual exercise intended for every day use … armor, rinse, repeat. If you don't, you're as vulnerable as a first year Hogwart's student at a Death Eater family reunion. And if you don't get that reference, read: "easy target."
So here's how not to be fish in a barrel for the Devil and his army. Start each day prayerfully and wholly committed to telling the truth, living right, being ready to share the gospel, trusting God in everything, remembering your forgiveness, and having a fist full of Scripture at the ready when the lies of the enemy come flying at you from every angle.
And most of all, keep in constant communication with Christ, because without prayer, the best defense in the world falls flat on its face.
So whether you're a Potter-Maniac or just a casual observer, remember the real battle you are in as a Christian, put on your armor, and fight in the power of God. I guarantee that if you do, the action/adventure of the Harry Potter series will pale in comparison!
Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.