I love Harry Potter.

(Warning: there are spoilers in this blog. But seriously if you haven’t seen Harry Potter yet then get on with it already will ya?)

Bet that’s not what you expected to get out of a Christian blog. Just trying to keep you on your toes. But really, can you think of a better movie/book series? (ok, maybe Lord of the Rings. But that’s it.)

Anyways, most of you know the story. Harry Potter is this famous kid wizard who vanquished the most powerful dark wizard of the age as a mere infant. That makes Harry the “Chosen One” to the rest of the wizarding world. The books are all about the rest of his journey as he figures out this whole magic thing all the while on an inevitable collision course with Voldemort, the same dark wizard who murdered his family and tried to kill him.

I bring Harry Potter up because over the break I was watching the Order of the Phoenix and Harry’s uncle, Sirius Black, said something to Harry that really hit me. The Order of the Phoenix is all about Harry being confronted with Voldemort’s return. Harry has vivid dreams that seem to be connected to Voldemort and he learns that the dark wizard is actually controlling his mind to some degree. He eventually confides in Sirius that he feels torn inside and is angry all of the time and wants to know why this is happening to him. Harry asks Sirius, “What if I’m becoming bad?”.

The way Sirius responded is something that I want us to pay attention to: “I want you to listen to me very carefully Harry. You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person who bad things have happened to. You understand? Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and death eaters, we’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on.”

Human beings are capable of great good and great evil. This isn’t difficult to see. Just read the news. And for most of us we want to be fully identified as good, as we should. But when we find ourselves doing things that are not kind, that are motivated by selfishness or that are downright evil we often fall into a pit of confusion and despair. We all of a sudden cannot stand ourselves because we feel like traitors. We feel torn inside.

I believe that we feel this way because there really is a struggle within us. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” There is both potential for great good and great evil within every follower of Jesus. There is both Holy Spirit and sin within us. This is the light and the dark that Sirius was calling out in Harry.

But then Sirius presents Harry with a powerful weapon: a choice. “What matters is the part we choose to act on.” Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Christ has set us free for the sake of freedom. Christ set you free from the bondage of sin so that you can choose freedom. God does not force people to stop sinning, He offers them a way out of sin by giving them the option to choose freedom. It’s freely offered, but you still have to choose.

Fast forward to the very end of the movie. After breaking into the Ministry of Magic and battling with the death eaters (they’re the bad guys in case you were wondering) Voldemort shows up. But before Voldemort can fight Harry, Dumbledore (the really powerful good wizard) shows up and battles him instead. It ends in a stalemate, but Harry is again torn apart on the inside and the dark wizard torments his thoughts. As Harry seems to be fighting this internal battle, writhing on the ground in pain, Dumbledore begins to speak to Harry very gently but confidently: “Harry, it isn’t how you are alike. It’s how you are not.”

Too many of us identify more with our sin than we identify as sons and daughters of God. And what’s wild is that doing that is in itself sinful! If you see yourself more for what’s wrong in you than what’s good in you, then you’re not seeing yourself the way God does. And that doesn’t honor God! “It isn’t how you are alike. It’s how you are not.” Harry felt more like Voldemort than he did like himself. I wonder how many of us feel like we are more evil than good? How many of us fixate on our sin instead of on Jesus? I believe God’s word to those of us is simple: I’ve given you a choice. There is light and dark within all of us, yes. The potential for both great good and great evil, yes. But we all have the ability to choose freedom. And it’s as simple as choosing not to identify with your sin and instead to identify as a friend of Jesus. When you do that you are free to choose freedom in your actions, words and thoughts.

Hebrews 4 talks about Jesus being our great high priest who is able to empathize with all of our temptations and trials. Just like Harry had horrible things happen to him throughout his life, we all have horrible things happen to us that make us doubt, worry and fall into sin. These things do not have to identify you. Because of what Jesus did on the Cross, God never looks at only your sin. He sees you as clean because you’re a new creation covered in the blood of Jesus. God doesn’t see you for what’s wrong, He sees you for what’s good! And if you’re open and willing, God will begin to show you how He sees you. And you will be set free from the sins and tragedies of your past!   

Harry was saved as an infant from Voldemort by the sacrificial love of his mother. She laid down her life because she loved Harry more than life itself. In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Then he went and did it. We are saved by the sacrificial love of Jesus. And just like Harry was given the choice to choose freedom because of his mother’s love, we have been given the same choice because the real Chosen One, Jesus Christ, loved us to the point of death. Jesus gave up His life over 2,000 years ago so that you can choose freedom in the Holy Spirit today.  

Author | Adam Salway