As many of you are aware, this past week I joined some 20,000 Assemblies of God ministers, family members and youth at the 2015 General Council in Orlando Florida. It was a wonderful gathering. During the week my son and I had a free day and we choose to visit the Universal Studios parks. If you’ve never been there, much like Disney, Universal has taken themes from their cartoons and movies and created rides and attractions. Two areas in particular stood out above all the rest. Both of them were amazing for their architecture and effects, and there were literally tens of thousands of people visiting them. Both of them were areas modeled after the Harry Potter books and movies.
Yes, there is a very strong theme of witchcraft and wizardry and even though Harry and his friends are seen to be on the side of good I still have strong reservations about anything including witchcraft for kids. However, that’s not my theme for today. It was the numbers of people in these two areas. More so than any other area in the two parks that make up the Universal Studios, these areas dedicated and modeled after these books and movies were exponentially more crowded. They were very literally shoulder-to-shoulder, front-to-back crowded. Adults, teens, and children filled these areas to capacity.
I had a single question that filled my mind. Why? I think I have an answer.
People long to be a part of something bigger than themselves. In the absence of something in the real world they will participate in an imaginary world to find that sense of grandness. Hogwarts offers a world of magic, power, and even immortality. Here’s where I got angry at Satan.
All of those people seeking a sense of immortality, adventure and significance are in fact immortal beings who are princes and princesses, heirs of a heavenly kingdom not seen with mortal eyes. They have at their disposal supernatural power through prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Harry and his friends are make-believe and yet people were walking around wearing robes and carrying wands. I didn’t see them but I heard that entire troops of people were dressed up like all the characters in the books.
Often people make God and church out to be about religion, traditions, meetings, music, sermons, and preachers.
Rather, God is about his connection to people and he expresses himself in power, revelation, and miracles; seen, unseen, grand and miniscule. We appropriate this kingdom through faith, which comes through the Bible made alive through the Holy Spirit. This thing called faith and having it changes everything about a person. As faith increases, the change becomes more noticeable and God’s power begins to grow in the life of the person having faith.
Simply put, “More Faith> More Jesus> More Revelation= More Power.”
Harry Potter has a version of this progression as well. More knowledge of magic, more spells, and belief in magic equals more power. Everything tries to copy and imitate God’s plan for his people.
I wonder sometimes if we have even as much faith as these play actors in a made up story. Over the course of the day I saw people dressed as Captain America, the Hulk, Spider Man, and lots and lots of Harry Potter characters. I prayerfully hope some of them saw Jesus. Even though I didn’t know the story lines from the books or the movies, before the day was over, I sort of knew the plot from the rides, costumes, and architecture. I hope we’re doing as good a job revealing the story of Jesus and that I have as much passion for my hero as they have for theirs!
Would it be easier if the story began… Once upon a time ….
We too are in a battle against evil. The difference is that this battle is real, the war rages just beyond our sight, and the spoils are the eternal destinies of every man, woman, boy, and girl.
This isn’t a fairy tale.
Blessings, Pastor Roy