Noragami grew on me week by week through the winter season, but it took one specific episode to win me over. At the end of episode eight, Yato has collapsed from the blight brought on by Yukine’s sins. And in the next episode, Yato’s, on death’s door (for kami can die), endures of pain and an almost-imminent demise, all because he believes in a young boy who is to prideful to admit that he is the cause of Yato’s pain. And in the kami’s actions, we also get a glimpse of the love of God.
Up until this point, the Noragami has been careful to develop Yukine as a character. There’s a balance here for the audience’s reaction to the pre-teen; we alternately consider him a brat and a sympathetic figure. We understand his immaturity, since he’s still a kid and he’s in an overwhelming situation. But the audience also resents him, a sentiment that builds as we see Yato getting more and more hurt, while patiently enduring for the sake of his shinki.
Yukine’s juvenile acts are serious – so serious that Yato is not only hurt by the blight taking over his body, he’s dying from it. The god Tenjin remarks that he has no idea what Yukine has done to let this get so out of hand, and that Yato should simply kill him and be done with it.
Even as Yato lays dying, Yukine is stubborn and resistant. Even though he knows he’s guilty, Yukine’s pride and his pain weight more heavily upon him than does the possibility of losing Yato. And while Yukine is different from the other shinki is his stubborness, he’s actually much closer to a typical person (ironically) than any other character in the series. We’re all at least a little like Yukine – wrapped up in self-worth, selfishness, and self-love. All these are sins before a holy God for a simple reason – they say that we’d rather worship ourselves than worship God.
So as the actions by Yukine are sins among the Shinto gods of Noragami, they are, too, before the holy God of Christianity. Maybe they seem relatively minor, but the delinquent acts and prideful resistance I mentioned are sin before Yahweh. As I mentioned earlier this week, Christ makes this clear one more than one occasion, even going so far as to state that thinking in a sinful manner is sin.
The God of the universe is holy, clean, and without blight. If He accepted us as we are and took us into His presence, He would be something less than holy. He would be imperfect. And thus, He wouldn’t be who He is. He wouldn’t be God.
This is key to understanding what Christianity is all about. Many of us think of ourselves as generally good, but before a holy God, we aren’t. We don’t live up to that standard. And we don’t belong in His presence. This is why God destroyed or ordered the death of much of His creation – they were sinful and evil and unholy. They (and we) didn’t deserve anything but death.
But out of his great love, God offers an escape from this punishment. In Noragami, the gods offer ablution to cleanse sin and pave a path to begin anew. Through the New Covenant, we put our faith in Christ and are given second life. Both ways require a confession of sins, where we tell what we’ve done wrong. In Christianity, it can be encapsulated in this response – “I’ve been chasing after something else with my heart, but now my heart is Yours.”
Like Yato, God’s heart is forgiving and open. He is willing to see us suffer and go through pain if it means the best for us – and the best for us is to live the way we were made to be.
We are His – so let’s live like it.
If you have any questions about Christianity or the gospel, please drop me a message using the “Ask the Staff” button above. Alternately, you can comment below. And have a happy Easter!