There’s always been a lot of transition at my church. We were once comprised of about 80% college students, and though there are more older folks (like me!) attending now, it’s still largely a “college church.” Because of this characteristic, year in and year out, I see students leave, finishing their four or five years, and moving on to the next part of their lives. It’s difficult to let them go and it’s draining, a bit, when you’re limited in how much you can build a relationship with someone before they’re gone.
But even more difficult is when I see (usually through Facebook) that some of these treasured friends have turned away from their faith and moved to a dark place, away from God’s truth and love.
There are so very many reasons why followers of Christ will cease to practice their faith (and in some cases, turn entirely away from it), but prime among them is one that a lot of us don’t like to admit or think of – and that’s the work of the devil and his followers.
In Noragami, we’re set in a world of humans and gods, of spirits and demons. There are lots of interesting parallels to make between a show with Shinto twists and the Christian religion, but really, only one particular element very clearly reminds me of my faith. Nora – and perhaps her “father,” are so very reminiscent of Christian demons. They blind, tempt, and entrap, and have the ability to tear down even the very strong.
In episode eight of Noragami Aragoto, Yato has come under the control of Nora (Hiiro) and their “father” at the moment when he feels strongest, when he tries to break his ties with them. But instead, he finds himself lost in time and falling back to unscrupulous deeds. And the ways in which Nora whispers to Yato compel him – she makes herself the victim, inciting guilt (and compassion?) within Yato; she speaks beautiful lies about love to him; and she convinces him to take on one “one final task.” All these are among the many tools in Satan’s arsenal that he also uses on us, and from which it can be difficult to flee – but not impossible to.
In fact, the same things we can cling to when we encounter temptation are those that can free us should we become entangled. We have to turn toward the truth of scripture, the beautiful words of God, which speak all that we need to hear if we’re willing to listen. We have to join in community that is serious about seeking God, to encourage us and help us do the same. And we must act, doing instead of just listening, carrying our crosses daily in obedience and spending time with God.
The invisible world of Noragami can be scary, but it’s no less frightening than the world that we’re in, the world we can’t see. A battle goes on for our souls, and the enemy is clever and tempting. But there’s hope, even if you’re in the midst of a downward spiral, even if you’re blinded by the things (and the master) of this world, even if you can’t seem to see the light – for the Light can and will cast out all darkness. We just have to choose His truth over the lies that pull us into the dark.