In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry has just run away from his awful aunt and uncle’s house when he sees an ominous black dog. He’s rescued by the Knight Bus, which picks up stranded magical folk. But throughout the book, this dog keeps cropping up. Harry sees it in the tea leaves in Professor Trelawney’s divination class. He sees it in the grounds of Hogwarts School. He even sees it in the bleachers of the Quidditch field. He’s not sure if he’s going mad, imagining this creature everywhere. But then one night it grabs his best friend Ron by the leg and drags him down a tunnel. Harry dashes after, terrified. At the end of the tunnel, he finds Ron in a haunted house. But the dog has gone. It’s turned into the evil murderer Sirius Black, who betrayed Harry’s parents to their deaths. Now he’s going to murder Harry too.
Or so Harry thinks.
If you’ve read the Harry Potter books, you’ll know that that’s not right at all. Rather than trying to murder Harry, Sirius wants to protect him. Rather than betraying Harry’s parents, Sirius was himself betrayed. Rather than being Harry’s enemy, Sirius turns out to be his faithful friend. In fact, he’s the closest thing to family Harry’s got. When Harry first saw Sirius, all the evidence was against him. But when he found out the truth of who Sirius was, Harry’s mind was changed. So was his heart.
When people look at Christianity, they sometimes make the same mistake that Harry made with Sirius. Many of my friends think Christianity is against the things they care about the most. My friends care about racial justice. They see the ways in which Christians have engaged in slavery and racism and they assume that Christianity is against racial justice. My friends hear Christians saying that Jesus is the only way to God, and they think this is arrogant and offensive to those who were raised with other religious beliefs. My friends think people should be able to date and marry whomever they want, but Christianity says that it’s not okay to marry someone of the same sex. My friends are excited by the discoveries of science, and they think that believing in a Creator God is the opposite of believing in science. My friends believe that women are equal to men, and they think Christianity puts women down. My friends see all the pain and suffering in the world, and they think there couldn’t possibly be a loving God in charge. But just as Harry’s view of Sirius totally changed when he discovered more, when we look more closely at each of these concerns, our view of Christianity might just change as well.