Part 4: Lessons in Spiritual Warfare from Harry Potter
I was watching ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ with my kids a few weekends ago and it really struck me how many parallels there are between the situation facing our bespectacled hero and that of us as pioneers in the church. In case you are unfamiliar with the story, Harry has seen the dark lord return but the ministry of magic refuse to believe him and are intent on doing all they can to refute his claims. The plot to get Harry expelled from Hogwarts School is foiled but the ministry send one of their loyalist members as a teacher to ensure that students get taught the theory of magic without ever having to put it into practice. They are encouraged to work hard and learn the information necessary to pass their OWL examinations but the actual casting of spells is strictly forbidden. Gradually more and more rules are introduced to ensure there is less and less likelihood that students of magic will get into situations where they’ll have any reason to employ their wands. However, Harry and his friends know that the vilest of evil fiends is on the loose and that they must do everything in their power to be ready to protect themselves and those they love in the confrontation that will inevitably come.
One of the criticisms regularly levelled against my work with spiritual seekers at new age fairs, is that I don’t take the occult seriously. This really makes my blood boil because I have seen more than most the damage that results from dabbling in practices that the Bible forbids. I absolutely hate how the enemy has taken the gifts God has given us in order to encourage, bless and demonstrate His love to others and created counterfeits that blind vulnerable people to the truth and enslaves them to a life journey that will ultimately lead to death. It is one of the foremost reasons I do the mission activities I do. I firmly believe that, like Harry Potter, we Christians are engaged in a spiritual battle with the prince of darkness himself. If we don’t partner with God to see His kingdom extended then there will be a growing predominance of greed, selfishness, violence and injustice in our communities, which are the fruit of his rule. Maybe the riots that we experienced in UK cities just a couple of weeks ago are an insight into what is at stake.
However, most churches seem intent on giving their members lots of teaching and instruction in how to live a life that ensures no stepping out of line without ever requiring them to venture beyond their buildings and engage in activities that will bring them into conflict with the enemy. We know how to pray and have studied how Jesus withstood temptation. We can quote Paul’s instruction to put on the full armour of God but have we ever actually been in a situation when we had to do it? I should say that I am not one of those Christians that see the devil behind every parking ticket and broken glass and I really don’t want to scare anyone as I think that just gives him more power than he has. But I do think we only test our faith and employ the weapons God has put in our hands, when we actually do what He has called us to. And what is that? Well to emulate Jesus in his mission as outlined in Luke chapter 4, verse 18-19, “…he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” If I am living with this as my reason for being, I will inevitably come against the forces that cause poverty, imprisonment and despair. But there is no need for me to be afraid, “for greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” Yet you won’t really know the truth of this until you start working to see Jesus’ mission fulfilled and experience for yourself the power of our Saviour.