I am a latecomer to the Harry Potter stories, by J. K. Rowling. In my early days as a parent, I legalistically banned them from my children’s reading list, concerned about the magic, wizardry, and witchcraft depicted.
After watching through the movie series with my family in recent weeks, I am struck by the consistent theme of self-sacrifice Rowling has infused her stories with. This focus has overcome the obvious theological problems in the series, in my mind. The stories portray good things to live for … and die for.
In one of the most powerful scenes of the movies, Professor Dumbledore greets Harry after he has made the difficult choice to give his life for his friends, to defeat the enemy of all good, Lord Voldemort. “Harry, you wonderful boy. You brave, brave man!”
That puts me in mind of the greeting all true believers in Jesus hope to hear at the end of their race: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) With the Apostle Paul, we all hope to be able to say, at our life’s waning, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Truth be told, I like the sound of “fight the good fight” because perhaps it means I can retain my pride and do it in my own strength. “Look at me, Lord! Haven’t I finished well?” Finishing well, however, is clearly represented throughout Scripture as dying well. “Dying the good death,” we might say. Just as Harry Potter did, receiving the commendation of his master. And on a far higher plane, the only way any of us will receive our Heavenly Master’s approval.
I’m coming to understand that living faithfully and loving fiercely actually involves dying, daily … and ultimately … for those we love. That’s our calling, and that’s how each of us will finish well. All in our Savior’s love and grace and power. He who died the best death, crying, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)