“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

I watched all the Harry Potter movies as they came out. I was a fan, not a fanatic, but the stories were just fun and entertaining, and I enjoyed them. Then a year ago my teenage daughter said, “You really need to read the books.” *Insert bulging eyes emoji and loud gulping sound here. I thought, “I love to read, but there are seven books, some of them are really big. I’ve already seen the movies, will the books even keep my interest, I already know what’s going to happen?” But to share the magic with my daughter I picked up the first book.

From the very beginning I could see a distinct thread that weaves through every book…sacrificial love defeats evil and death. If you’re thinking, “Wait, did he just start talking about the Bible?” No, still on Harry Potter, stick with me. From Lily Potter giving her life for Harry, to Dumbledore giving his life for Draco, to Harry giving his life for, well, the world, we see sacrificial love being the driving force that brings hope to every dark situation.

In 2007 J.K. Rowling told MTV in an interview, “I think those two particular quotations [Harry] finds on the tombstones at Godric’s Hollow, they sum up — they almost epitomize the whole series.” What two quotations is she talking about? “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” on Dumbledore’s sister’s tombstone and “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” on Harry’s parent’s stone. And (spoiler alert) Harry spends all seven books learning to treasure his relationships and caring for others over power or fame and in the end we see that death is defeated in Harry’s “resurrection” and Voldemort’s death.

I can’t help it. Reading these books makes me love Jesus more. Reading about Harry and his friends gives me another way of seeing the beauty of the gospel through story. Lily’s sacrifice protecting Harry from death makes me see Jesus’ sacrifice to protect me from death. Dumbledore’s sacrifice to protect Draco from evil reminds me that Christ died, not just to save me from death, but to free me to live a holy life now. And Harry’s death and return screams at me to remember that the One who died for the world, the One who gave His life to set us free, will return one day and when He does “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death!”

Until that day we are called to love. Love one another. Love our friends, our family, the world. Love sacrificially like Lily and Dumbledore and Harry. But above all others, fictional or real, love like Jesus who loved perfectly. Love like Jesus who gave everything so that others could be free to give everything.

Please know I understand that many will think, “I doubt this guy is even a Christian. Why is he commending these horrible books full of witchcraft and sorcery?” To you I say, great question, but this is not the post to answer that question. Shoot me an email I would love to discuss it.