I often find bits of Christian wisdom and inspiration in some very unlikely places. Most recently, this has come from one of the most unlikely places, and one that might offend many Christians.
I recently read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
My oldest child showed an interest in the books, and while there are many groups of Christians who are very much against them, I am not a "banning books," type of person. Though I had never read them, I had always heard either one of two things about them:
From people who have actually read them: The books are GREAT! The battle of good vs evil is clear, yet even the good is flawed, as we see them grow throughout the stories, trying to do the right things.
From people who have never read the books or seen the movies, and only knowledge of them is that it's about magic, written by an atheist author: The books are evil and in reading them, you will be welcoming evil sorcery into your home!
Ehhh, that last part might be a slight exaggeration for humor's sake.
But I digress, because this is not a book review.
I decided if my children were going to read them, so was I. I was never really against them to begin with, just hadn't really been all that interested at first. So, my oldest two children and I have completed the first book of the series, and what do you think I did?
I used it to talk to them about a relationship with Jesus. And so, I share that here, with you now, because I think it is important to spur on conversations about Christ with our children which they can understand and relate to.
**Spoiler alert, for those who are even farther behind this trend than I.**
Throughout the book, we learn of this evil doer named Voldemort, only they do not refer to him by his name, claiming that his name has power, and so they often call him, "You Know Who," as though calling his very name, gives him life.
Harry is a young boy who was born into the life of magic, a wizard by birth, with a great destiny he knows nothing about, because when Voldemort killed his parents, he was raised by his human (muggle) aunt and uncle, who wanted nothing to do with that life. What we don't know, however, is how did You Know Who, kill his parents, but not the defenseless baby that he was? Instead, Harry lived, and was left with a scar on his forehead.
Fast forward to the end of Harry's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, when he finally comes face to evil face with Voldemort, and once again, You Know Who cannot kill him. When he tries to touch him, he screams in agony, as the touch of Harry seemingly burns his hands. Realizing this, Harry touches his face to get away from him.
Upon the defeat of Voldemort, Harry asks Professor Dumbledore why he couldn't touch him. Dumbledore tells him, "Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign...to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved is gone, will give us some protection forever."
I asked my children, "What does love, as Professor Dumbledore describes it, remind you of?"
Their eyes lit up almost immediately, "Jesus!" They answered in unison. "Except He's not gone," my oldest finished.
We talked about the differences and similarities a bit.
"Whose name do you call on when you are scared?" I asked.
"Jesus!" they answered proudly.
I explained to them, because He loved us, we have been marked. We have been covered. We have been saved. And while evil may try to scare us or hurt us...or worse, it cannot touch us if we call upon His name.
This does not mean that bad things won't happen. Life happens. Bad choices, horrible circumstances which we have no control over, happen all the time. But I am not talking about bad things. No, I am talking about the face of evil.
You believe that there is one God. Good!
Even the demons believe that -- and shudder.
Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him
and cried out, "You are the Son of God."
We have been given a power over evil, which even evil knows, yet cannot understand, and cannot defeat.
We practice faith and trust every single day of our lives. We strap ourselves into large, hollow pieces of metal, on wheels, and have faith that those painted yellow lines down the center of the road will ward off collisions. Likewise, we strap ourselves into practically futile safety belts in a giant piece of metal with wings, and fly 7 miles above the earth, with faith that our pilots know what they're doing. We eat food prepared by others, all the time, trusting that it's safe and spit-free.
We put our trust in people without knowing their whole story, all the time. Our pilots and our surgeons; people we are literally trusting with our lives, all had to start somewhere. Were you a pilot's first solo flight? Were you a surgeons first solo surgery? We don't usually have any way of knowing these things, and yet, we have faith.
In spite of warning after warning on social media, of the general untrustworthy nature of the human race, we still hope for the best every time we leave the house. We believe in the general goodness of people.
And yet, have difficulty believing in God's goodness. We struggle believing that He is who He says He is.
We accept man's testimony, bot God's testimony is greater...
~ 1 John 5:9
As many times as we say that we don't trust people, or we have no faith in mankind, our actions prove over and over again, that this just isn't true. We love, and we get hurt, and we love again. Mistakes are made, lines are crossed, collisions and crashes occur every day. Yet, we continue making plans for our futures. We keep moving, keep planning, keep believing against the uncertainty.
The spirits of this world.
We have overcome this world, because we have God. We persist, we keep moving against the mountains, against certain death, because we know we have a greater power and purpose within us, and the world cannot take that away.
I believe that even when we are struggling, even when we are hurting, full of doubts and uncertainty, our spirit knows this to be true. But if you need reminding, the book of 1 John is a great place to start.
The faith on which we operate daily, doesn't make any sense when you think of it in terms of the world.
BUT, in terms of GOD, our daily faith and persistence makes perfect sense.
I have found that one of the most difficult things for me to recognize in my life, is the obvious need of Jesus. Of course I know I need Him every day, but honest moment here; sometimes that is easier in theory than in application. As much as I love Jesus, and as much as I want everyone else to know and love Him, and know they are loved by him, I will often still get swept up into the busyness of life. I am constantly learning, constantly growing, and an area that I am striving to improve, is in spending more consistent, and efficient time in God's Word.
It almost never fails. I find myself in a funk, in a mood, aggravated by everyone and everything. It hits me hard this time of year in particular, when we are so tired of winter weather and being cramped up in this tiny house throughout much of spring too.
This time, I was able to recognize it a little more quickly. I have been busy with the kids and my business. I have been reading a lot of books with my children, (or trying to keep up with my children rather), so my quiet times have been consumed mostly with fictional reading, which I love, but it is lacking.
Yesterday I found myself in a particularly hostile mood. Mind you, I'm not a mean person in these moods, so much as I really just want to go away, by myself, and ignore the world. Then, through a completely unrelated Instagram post from a friend, I stumbled upon Psalm 143, as if for the very first time.
I sincerely encourage you to read all of Psalm 143, if you are feeling, as I was; grumpy, lonely, moody, or just feel like you're missing something. David was longing for the Lord. He was crying out to Him, exclaiming, "my soul thirsts for you like a parched land." He was in need of rescuing. Life can do that to you. The enemy is everywhere in this world, and he doesn't want your thirst to be quenched. The enemy doesn't want your soul to be fulfilled. But that longing, that homesick feeling, is there for a reason.
God's Word is so fulfilling, and even when we know that; even when we pray every day, anyone of us can often fall victim to this world. Don't let the world suffocate you. Don't allow the world to take away your joy. I chose the above picture for a reason. The trees surrounding us aren't nearly as beautiful in darkness. Look up, toward the sun. When we focus on the son shining through the world surrounding us, it can breathe new life into the perspective of our days.
The idea of karma, I've noticed, seems to be widely accepted in our culture today. Christians and non-Christians alike will resort to posting quotes about karma on social media when they feel they've been wronged by someone they knew, trusted, or even loved. Many will even point to references in the Bible, claiming that even the Bible refers to karma with its, "you reap what you sow," analogy.
I have read a little bit about karma recently, and while I am certainly no expert, I have found a few points very interesting. But don't misunderstand. This blog post is not actually about karma at all.
The karma I refer to here and throughout, is the karma that our society and culture uses, often incorrectly, to acknowledge that someone deserves bad things to happen to them when they have done bad things themselves. Karma teaches that there is a cause and effect to our actions, and that any negative we put out into the universe will have a negative impact on our future. Likewise, any positive we send out, reaps a positive impact.
A little while back I wrote about villains, and how at any given moment we can be either the victim in our own story, or the villain of someone else's. So how ironic is it, that so many of us turn to karma for those who have hurt us? Have you ever hurt anyone? Accidentally? In the heat of the moment? Maybe without even realizing it? My guess is, yes. I believe we all have. Yet we proclaim karma on everyone else, as though we can't possibly be among the people deserving this.
Isn't the very idea of wishing bad karma on someone else, in essence, a negative and vengeful thought? Think about that for a moment. By wishing bad karma onto another person, you are behaving in such a way as to reap negativity.
Jesus is not about karma.
Yes, the law of karma does teach that our thoughts, words and actions begin a chain of cause and effect, and that we will personally experience the effects of everything we put out there.
Yes, likewise, the Bible teaches us that we reap what we sow, and that there are consequences to our actions. Yes, you do reap what you sow in life, and you can absolutely mess your own life up with your own poor choices and negativity.
But karma and Jesus actually teach us very different things.
First of all, if we just look at the world around us, we can tell that karma, the way our culture uses it, is false. Life doesn't work that way. Some of the kindest, most thoughtful, most genuine people I have ever met, have had horrible things happen in their lives. Also, there are plenty of people at the top, who have hurt a lot of people in their lives to climb to the top of success.
The way in which we talk about karma is not Biblical. It is vengeful, and it does not align with forgiveness or love. This karma, fail us time and time again. Karma isn't going to knock people down when you want it to. Karma isn't going to fight your fights, and kick your enemies.
Neither is Jesus.
Jesus already took what we deserved.
When Jesus took that beating, and was brutally crucified, he took the punishment for everyone. Not just you. Not just me. Not just the sins of occasionally cursing or drinking too much.
He died for the thieves and the murderers. He died for all the evil in this world, that they may turn to Him and change their ways. He even died for everyone who has ever hurt you, who continues to hurt you, or who is going to hurt you in the future. And instead of wishing negativity on their lives, He wants you to forgive them, as He does.
I, for one, am so glad that Jesus doesn't operate like karma. Jesus took that karma already, and He doesn't want you to wish it on anyone.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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