God On Film 2009 part 4
Lessons from Harry Potter
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 26, 2009
VIDEO - Trailer
Potter. Since the release of the first book about him by J. K. Rowling
in 1997, Harry Potter has captivated the minds and imaginations of
children around the world. But not just children. Parents, college
students, teenagers, young adults and fans of fantasy have all been
charmed by the fictitious young student of Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Over the past twelve years, over 400
million copies of the Harry Potter series of books have been printed in
67 different languages. There are seven books in all, and the final
four set consecutive records for the fastest selling books in history.
far, the first six books have been made into movies, becoming the
highest grossing film series of all time (not adjusted for inflation).
The final book is going to be broken into 2 movies to be released in
November 2010 and July 2011. And just in cast you want to know, if you
want to watch the first six movies before going to see the seventh one
when it comes out, you’ll need to set aside 15 hours and 3 minutes.
There’s a marathon for you.
The six movie, “Harry Potter &
the Half-Blood Prince”, opened in theatres just a week and a half ago,
and has already set several records. It broke the record for the
biggest midnight showing, it set the record for the highest single-day
worldwide gross, it took Spider-Man’s record for the biggest ever
worldwide 5-day opening, and is the fastest movie to ever bring in $350
So obviously, people are going to see this movie. Many
of you have seen it or are planning to see it. Which makes it a pretty
good candidate for us to look at today as we finish up our message
series, God On Film.
Over the course of this series, we’ve
looked at some of the movies that are out in theatres this summer that
people are going out to watch, and we’ve tried to use them to help
illuminate what the Bible tells us about God, about our relationship
with Him, about our relationships with each other, and about how we can
live lives that are Christlike and God-honouring.
necessarily recommending or endorsing these movies; we’re just
acknowledging that they are out there, people are seeing them, and
whether the movies themselves are good or bad there are good things we
can learn because of them.
So let’s talk about Harry Potter. In case you’re completely uninformed
about this series, let me give you a bit of background.
the story goes, Harry Potter was born as the son of a wizard, but his
parents were killed while he was still an infant. So he ended up being
raised by his uncle and aunt who wanted nothing to do with wizardry and
hid Harry’s heritage from him. But eventually Harry finds out and is
enrolled in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he
learns about himself and his powers and where he experiences adventures
with his friends Ron and Hermione.
Through the course of the
series, Harry comes face to face with his Arch-enemy, Lord Voldemort… a
powerful, intelligent, ruthless Dark Wizard who also happens to be the
one who killed Harry’s parents. You see this conflict between Harry and
Voldemort escalating throughout the series, and it goes to yet another
level in this most recent movie. And no, I’m not going to give it away.
we go any further, though, let me say this, too: The Harry Potter
series has not been embraced by everyone. According to the American
Library Association, the books from the series frequently appear on
their list of the most challenged books as being inappropriate. They’ve
actually topped the list more than once.
Plus, many parents
worry that the Harry Potter books encourage children to rebel, since
Harry always tries to do what he thinks is best regardless of what he’s
been told. Others, including many Christians, are concerned that their
emphasis on magic and witchcraft creates an unhealthy interest in the
The flip side is that many people including Christians
applaud the series as a well-written series of books that encourages
children to read. Harry Potter is a strong moral character and models
courage and loyalty to his friends. He’s a good kid who takes on evil.
And even as the series progresses and Harry struggles to “find
himself”, he continues to stay on the side of the good. In regards to
dealing with witchcraft and the occult, supporters would say Harry
Potter is a series about fantasy. And besides, real-life witches and
Satanists have claimed the books and the movies do not really resemble
what they are all about. And if you are going to reject Harry because
the books deal with magic, then you also have to reject Cinderella, A
Christmas Carol, The Sword and the Stone, and classics like C.S. Lewis’
“Chronicles of Narnia” and J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”.
So those are the two opposing views. But my purpose this morning is not
to tell you which side you should fall on. I would encourage you to be
informed and investigate the things that the series teaches. Especially
if your children are interested, you should be interested and check it
out. Compare it to what the Bible says and make a right judgment
So, what we are going to do this morning is identify
five truths that we learn from the Harry Potter series. And you can use
the notes provided in your Sunrise Update to follow along and fill in
Truths from the Harry Potter Series:
There is a reality beyond what we see
if you went up to Harry and told him this – that there is a reality
beyond what we can see – he would have absolutely no problem accepting
that. Why? Because he’s already experienced it!
series, Harry is constantly battling with unseen powers, he’s feeling
the effects of unseen oppression, he’s very much aware of unseen
authorities, both good and evil.
Hogwarts itself is invisible to
the non-magical world. Early on in the series, Harry is given an
invisibility cloak which allow him to become invisible to the people
around him. And in the current movie, there is kind of an evil alliance
of wizards that seems to be able to come and go as they please. One
moment they’re there, the next they’ve vanished.
So in the
world of Harry Potter, it’s a given that there is a reality beyond what
we can see. And that’s true in the real world, too. There are all kinds
of things we can’t see.
Ultraviolet light. It’s invisible to the naked eye.
Subatomic particles. Same thing.
How about radiation? You can detect it, you can see the results of it,
but you can’t see it.
what about emotions? Do you have them? Yep. Do you know they’re real?
Sure. But can you see them? No, you can’t. But they impact how you
feel, how you act, how you interact with others…
Or how about thoughts? Most of us have thoughts. But you can’t see a
what about other dimensions or parallel universes? They’re talked about
all the time in science fiction and scientists have developed theories
about them. But no one can see them. At least not yet.
Plus, there are probably things we don’t even know about yet.
So there are all kinds of things that are invisible to us. And that
I think we experience their effects, some people may get a glimpse of
this spiritual world from time to time, and someday I believe we’ll all
come face to face with it, but for now it’s basically hidden from us.
Let me show you some verses…
Colossians 1:15-16 (NLT)
is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything
was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God
created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the
things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones,
kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was
created through him and for him.
So there are things we can see,
and there are things we can’t see. Including an unseen spiritual
reality. You can ignore it, you can deny it even exists, but that
doesn’t make it so.
Romans 1:20 (NLT)
Through everything God
made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power
and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
again, you have the unseen – the invisible qualities of God which are
expressed through everything He created. And when you pay attention and
you recognize these qualities, they point you toward God Himself.
there are all kinds of things that are invisible. Even something as
basic as love. Love can make you do some pretty goofy things. Love has
a definite impact on how you act and how you think. It can raise you to
the heights of jubilation or it can crash you to the depths of despair.
You can’t see… but it’s there.
You see, the world is more than we can see. And this is an important
truth for us to recognize. Why? Why is this even important?
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)
we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze
on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be
gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
the past 4-5 weeks have been really tough on Hollywood and on
pop-culture. A lot of really talented people have died. And it’s tough,
because you wonder if they were aware of what was waiting for them. You
wonder if they were aware that there is a reality beyond what we can
see. And you wonder if they were ready for it.
Christ-followers, we’re aware of it. And we’ve set out eyes on it. But
we also need to be about the business of directing other eyes toward
this unseen reality and toward God Himself. It’s up to us to share
about the reality of what we cannot see.
everyone tends to become consumed with this reality… with what we can
see. But what we can see isn’t really all that important. Someday, it’s
all going to be gone. But what for now is unseen… that is eternal.
There is an evil seeking to destroy us
builds on the first truth. Because not only is there an unseen reality,
but there are unseen forces… unseen beings battling on the side of good
and on the side of evil.
In Harry Potter, the evil that is
seeking to destroy Harry is a character named Lord Voldemort. He’s also
called He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or You-Know-Who, the Dark Lord, or
he’s known by his birth name, Tom Riddle.
And just for you
trivia buffs, in the movie it’s pronounced as Voldemort. But
originally, the “T” was supposed to be silent, like the French
pronunciation. In fact, that’s the way it is in the first four
audiobooks, but they changed it after the first movie came out.
Anyway, Voldemort is evil. And he’s out to destroy Harry.
we also believe there’s an evil out to destroy us. And he also goes by
a variety of names… Satan, the Devil, the Adversary, Lucifer… all kinds
of names. And he’s out for you and he’s out for me.
like Lord Voldemort on steroids. He makes Voldemort look like a girl
scout. Satan is an incredibly powerful evil being. And he’s out to
1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around
like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
watch a nature program? Ever see a lion on the prowl. You see, a lion
is a skilled hunter. He often uses stealth to sneak up on its prey and
attacks it. Or, as you see in this verse, he might go around roaring.
That’s not very stealth-like. In fact, you can hear a lion’s roar up to
8 kilometers away. But that roar can strike terror. It can intimidate.
And it can scare you into an ambush by other members of the pride.
A lion also hunts with a lot of skill. A lion will
seek the weakest, the smallest, the slowest… and that’s the one he’ll
And a lion will also use strength to overcome its
prey. And a lion is incredibly strong. In fact, a lion can grow to be
8-10 feet long. Just to give you a little perspective, that’s about the
distance from that speaker to the wall. That’s a big cat. And he can
weigh up to 500 pounds.
A lion is incredibly skillful,
incredibly strong, incredibly dangerous… And that’s why for the
pre-Christian, it’s important for you to come to Christ. Because you
can’t oppose Satan on your own. He’s much too skillful for that. And if
you are a Christ-follower, it’s important that you grow and become
mature and depend on Christ and His skill to overcome any attacks of
In fact, I think the very next verse tells you this…
1 Peter 5:9 (NLT)
Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.
not enough for you to just stand firm, you also need to be strong in
your faith in Jesus Christ. Because there is an evil out to destroy
you, and on your own you can’t win. But with Jesus, you can’t lose.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do things
was Harry’s big problem in the fourth installment, The Goblet of Fire.
That’s when he was involved in the Triwizard Tournament, and he was
torn between sticking to the rules or breaking them. And actually,
Harry did cheat a little bit, and he did win… but there was a
consequence and someone died.
You see, when you have a choice on how you’re going to do things, you
can choose in one of three ways…
can do things your way… and sometimes that works out, but often it
turns out to be the wrong way because it’s so easy for us to mess up.
Or you can choose to do things the enemy’s way… and that’s always the
And the third way is, you can choose to do things God’s way. And that’s
always the right way.
the current movie, there’s a new professor at Hogwarts, and in one
conversation with Harry he basically tells him… “There is light, and
there is dark. I try to stick to the light.”
And I think that’s
a pretty good policy. Try to stick to the light. Stick to God’s way.
Let Him direct your choices, and you’ll always get it right.
John 8:12 (NLT)
am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in
darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
1 John 1:6-7 (NLT)
we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in
spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are
living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship
with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all
You see, when you don’t stick to the light… when you don’t stick to
God’s ways… that’s when you are faced with sin.
let’s talk about sin, because that’s a word that people make more
complicated than it needs to be. The word “sin” simply means “to miss
the mark”. It’s actually an archery term, and the image you get is
someone with a bow and arrow, aiming at a target, letting it fly, but
they miss. Maybe you shoot it wide, maybe you don’t even shoot it far
enough, but you miss the target.
Shera and I have been watching
a show this summer called Superstars, which is basically a group of
B-list celebrities who are going head to head in athletic competitions.
This past week, one of the challenges was shooting an arrow at a target
on the wall. Some of them were hitting the target, some of them were
shooting it way wide. But there was one time when one of the
celebrities shot the arrow, and it was so close to the target that they
had to call in a judge to inspect it. And after the judge checked it
out, it missed the target.
You see, sin is sin. Sometimes we sin
in big ways, but often we sin in small ways and we think it’s okay. But
we’ve still missed the target. Maybe you’ve gossiped, maybe you’ve been
unforgiving, maybe you’ve not been kind to someone… seemingly minor
things, but they still miss the target and they’re still sin.
what’s the best way to hit the target? What’s the best way to make sure
you stick to the light? Let me give you a little secret…
Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
best way to hit the target is to learn the ways of God, is to read
about him, learn what He values, and internalize His Word by memorizing
There is a road of suffering we all must walk
the time you get to the fourth, fifth, and now sixth installments of
this series, you really see that the contradiction between who Harry is
and who he wants to be, and this problem he’s having with Voldemort…
all of that is heating us. Fights are going on, people are
and it hurts Harry. He suffers because of everything that’s going on.
no one here has ever suffered, right? No, we’ve all suffered. We’ll all
gone through it. The loss of a loved one, a rough break-up, sickness,
disease… we’ve all gone through it. The world is full of suffering.
This is what the Bible says…
1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT)
friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through,
as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very
glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering,
so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is
revealed to all the world.
Suffering is part of life. We all go
through it; none of us are immune. In fact, if you go to
BibleGateway.com and do a search on the word “suffering”, you’ll find
dozens of passages in the Bible that talk about suffering. It’s our
common experience as human beings. We all face it. Even as
Christ-followers, we still face it. In fact, sometimes it’s precisely
because we are Christ-followers that we do suffer. It’s part of the
Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when
we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop
endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character
strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
is something we don’t enjoy. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be suffering. But
suffering does have some good results, and we can rejoice as
Christ-followers because we know that God uses our suffering to help us
develop endurance, character, and a confident hope in our salvation.
– Jesus didn’t die to end our suffering. He died so we could have
eternal life, so we could have forgiveness, so we can be holy. But not
to get rid of suffering. At least, not in this lifetime. But we do look
forward to the day when all our suffering will be over.
Romans 8:18 (NLT)
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal
to us later.
day is coming. But it’s not here yet. So how do you handle suffering
right now? Do you try to go it alone? Do you vainly try to escape it?
Or do you turn to God? Do you ask Jesus, “Help me get through this.”
Because even though He doesn’t end our suffering, He does help us with
And that brings us right to final truth we’re looking at this morning…
There is a Guardian watching over us
you’ve read the books or seen the movies, you know that Harry often
feels all alone. But what he learns over the course of time is that
he’s never alone. First of all, he has his Godfather… Sirius Black… who
Harry didn’t even know about at first but who has always been watching
out for Harry. He’s been a kind of guardian... at least, when he's not
And then you have Dumbledore, the headmaster at
Hogwarts. And in the fifth movie you find out that Dumbledore has
assigned a wizard to covertly check in on Harry and keep him safe.
of course, you’ve got his friendships with Ron and with Hermoine. There
are times when Harry thinks he has to fight against the evil Voldemort
all by himself, but Ron and Hermoine are always there to remind him
that he doesn’t have to do it alone… that they’re right there with him.
And you know, it’s nice to know there’s always someone there that you
can count on… that there’s one person you can trust.
you’re married, then hopefully you feel like that with your spouse. You
know that they’re always with you. You know you can count on them. And
even when everyone else turns their backs on you, they are there for
A few months ago, I had a nasty stomach flu… like I’ve
never experienced before. And it was… how do I say this… messy. But
Shera’s the one who would walk into the bathroom while I was hanging
over the toilet to check on me, to see what she could do, to ask how
she could help…
Maybe you’ve got a spouse like that who you can
count on. Or maybe you’ve felt like that with your parents. Maybe
you’ve got a good set of parents who have always been there for you and
you know that they’ve always been on your side. Or maybe you’ve had a
best friend… we’ve all had best friends… so maybe you’ve had a best
friend that you could always count on no matter what. They were going
to be there with you through thick and thin.
Well, Jesus created
the Church so that we could be that for each other. So we could support
and uplift and be there for each other. But even beyond the Church, He
Himself is always there. And even when you feel alone… even when you’re
going through a time of suffering or testing or confusion or failure…
He is right there with you. I love this…
Hebrews 13:5-6 (NLT)
God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we
can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no
fear. What can mere people do to me?”
Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
…There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
And as Jesus said…
Matthew 28:20 (NLT)
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
[This message drew heavily on resources
by Richard Abanes]