Of all the interesting characters in Angel Beats!, my favorite is one who is one of the most normal – Hinata. Episode four of the series deals with a baseball game, as we get a glimpse into the former high school baseball player’s past, one in which a simple error cost his team a chance at Koshien and led him to experiment with (and maybe later die from) drugs.
Hinata reminds me a lot of a friend I had in middle school. He was older than me, cooler than me, more popular than me, and more mature than me. In spite of it all, this friend not only spent time with me – he actively sought me out, day after day, and watched out for me. He was also the first young person I knew who not only claimed to be Christian, but who lived a life largely free of hypocrisy.
But more on Christians later. Let’s get back to Hinata.
Both in the past and present, he is absorbed in that moment – you know, the one where your stomach is turning inside out, you feel your chest is about to explode, and you swear no sound will come from your mouth if you tried to speak. We’ve all had those moments – in games, before presentations, before exams. I had one a couple of Sundays ago when I had to give a pretty long spiel before the church congregation. Although I wasn’t as eloquent as I liked to be, as I returned to my seat, I felt a pair of reassuring hands on my shoulders and the words, “good work,” whispered from a friend. It was what I needed at that moment.
I’ve been reading the Gospel of John during my quiet times, and all this reminded me of that book, which tells of Jesus saying that the world will know us (Christians) by how we love one another. In fact, that little phrase is repeated several times in a passage (John 13), signifying its significance.
Non-Christians can of course also demonstrate great love. Angel Beats! shows an example when Otonashi rushes toward Hinata, trying to lose the very game he’d pitched throughout in order to save his friend from disappearing. In his time of greatest need, Hinata had the gift of a great friend to be there for him. True love, as demonstrated by Christ on the cross, requires sacrifice – and that’s the kind of love Hinata, and all of us, sometimes need.
If you’re a Christian, do you have friends who love you like that at your church? If you don’t attend church, do you have a circle of similar friends? Are you that type of friend?