Question: Is Harry Potter planting churches?
Short Answer: Maybe.
Long Answer: I remember when the first Harry Potter movie arrived in theaters. My parents forbade us from seeing it, which was not a shock considering they had told us we were not allowed to read the books. (Honestly, I didn’t want to read books anyway, so my teenage self was not heartbroken over the orphan who happened to be a wizard!)
Years later my mom would get home late after a night with some of the ladies from church who had gone to a midnight premiere of the Goblet of Fire!
After watching the movies with various friends, I was struck by the powerful storytelling, and character development on display. In the end, it wasn’t actually about “magic” but about overcoming fear, anxiety, bullies, and evil itself. Harry Potter taught an entire generation what it meant to have grit and to stand up for the little guy, even when it doesn’t give you power or fame (unless you are HP!).
When I married Lauren, I hadn’t realized what kind of Harry Potter fanatic was waiting beneath her beautiful exterior. I have since read the first three in the series and fully intend on finishing the rest as soon as I am able.
But here is the point:
When I was younger there were many in the church who hated HP. This hatred was visceral and produced a series of books on the subject in order to save children from becoming disciples of J.K. Rowling instead of Jesus Christ. Of course, this like many Christian sub-culture movements did not succeed. But there were similarities between the books and the church.
I began to realize that when it came to things like prayer, in general, and healing prayer, in particular, there were many folks in the church who treated it like Harry Potter. If we prayed the right words and believed hard enough, some sort of Kingdom magic would take over and, kaboom, a miracle.
Is it our fault if the person we prayed for is not healed? Maybe. More often than not it is our failure to recognize we are in a battle, contending for something to happen in the midst of a complicated and chaotic system. So when I speak on the subject, I tell people that the Kingdom is not Harry Potter, where you wave your magic Jesus-wand over a person and something happens. Instead, we are contending in the spirit to see things shift and transform. And it takes the one thing we can’t afford in the West: time.
You see, we reject Harry Potter, but we all want to go to his church. We cry out to God for a big bang to happen and all He seems to respond back with is something far simpler:
“Will you give your time to this?”
And we should respond, very simply, like this: “Honestly, no.”
I don’t know why some people I pray for get healed/transformed/delivered and why some do not; yet I do know this: those who are committed to participating with God in the little disciplines, one day at a time, see that transformation so many of us desire but have not the discipline to birth in our communities.
Here is the question we all want to ask: is it God’s will to heal everyone?
If by “healing” you mean the process which brings us into wholeness, then yes. Why wouldn’t God want everyone to be brought into wholeness?
So I’ve left the church of HP for the church of Jesus Christ. The question is: will you join me?