My wife and I are both watching Noragami right now: she’s watching season one and I’m keeping up with season two. We’re roughly around the same point of each season, around episode eight, as I glance at what my wife is viewing (basically Yukine being super spoiled and almost destroying Yato), I’m getting a good look at certain parallels and especially at Yukine’s transformation. In doing so, I’m realizing it parallels my own, and that of all who say they belong to God.
1. We’re all sinners
Yukine was soo annoying in season one. Didn’t we all just want to smack him on the head? In fact, even the ever-patient Hiyori, the kind voice of reason, mentions how Yukine has drifted so far off. He’s the unexpected and unwitting villain in the first arc. By being stubborn and spoiled and hedonistic, he nearly does his master in.
If I’m being completely honest, though, I’m not a whole lot different from Yukine. I think a lot of people like to make the comparison between earthly parents rearing unruly children to God caring for us, and that image works quite well. We’re so unruly, so prideful (like Yukine, who does what he does thinking that he knows best), so sinful. We’re in need of a Savior, for we cannot save ourselves – not the way we are in our condition. Nope, we’re not good without God – we can only be good with him.
2. We need God
One complaint I have about Noragami is that Yato as a character doesn’t completely work for me. He isn’t quite believable – how can he be both a god (infallible, as he claims) and such a goofball? Unlike with Kenshin, a similar silly-to-strong character, we see soooo much of Yato’s ridiculous side that the changes to godlike state just don’t work for me. And even further than his strength and fighting ability, which I’m okay with, is his serious and compassionate sides, particularly with his patience with Yukine.
But our God – His character rings true to me, both through scripture and through personal experience. His patience with me is explained in scripture and bears out in my life. And his perfection and love allows me to be saved from my misery. While I have issues with Yato, his sacrifice for Yukine still reminds me of Christ’s for me, of God who loved us so much that even in my misery, even in my Yukine-ness, he would be willing to go to the utmost end to save a wretch like me.
3. We respond with love
Season two’s Yukine is very different than season one’s. I was quite taken aback, actually, rewatching parts of the first season and seeing how awful Yukine was to Yato. This season, he still bickers with his master, but serves him faithfully. Yukine serves him so faithfully, in fact, that he becomes a blessed regalia, having put his life down for his master, and then later starts to grow into a role as exemplar, seeking to support Yato. Almost despite himself, he’s come to love his master.
For us, when we’ve experienced the grace of God, the only proper response is to love him in return. And that’s what the Christian faith is about. “Relationship” with God means responding to him as our great love. And love to the greatest extent means laying down our lives – both in service to God and, if need be, physically as well. And we, too, will be blessed if we do as Yukine does, submitting everything for our master.
4. But we’re still not perfect
Of course, Yukine’s relationship with Yato will never be perfect. In fact, some comedy happens when Yato thinks of selling Yukine, and Yukine thinks of “moving up” in the god world. Yukine’s allegiance isn’t perfect, and he still may blight his master in the future.
For us, we’ll never find perfection in this life either. But we’ll continue to grow in our faith if we remember our first love and do what’s needed to let the Holy Spirit reign in us as we undergo transformation, running away from the temptations of the flesh and toward the things of the spirit, seeking God’s will.
When we make the decision to do all that, to live Christlike lives, we’ll find supreme value in our life. We’ll live it out to the utmost extent. And we’ll be like this growing Yukine – an examplar and blessed regalia, though in our case, we carry titles more valuable – sons and daughters of God and his royal ambassadors.
cover art by Ｎora | reprinted w/permission
7 thoughts on “Becoming Yukines: Regalias and the Path From Sinner to Saint”
There are definitely some aspects of the god/worshipper relationship I’ve been thinking about a lot. While I haven’t seen this show, your post on it does make me want to talk about that.
“Of course, Yukine’s relationship with Yato will never be perfect.”
Well….to me that’s half the point. A relationship is give-and-take, with the flawed bits and bad memories only serving to make you grow in your love for one another, grow stronger together. I don’t see reverence and cordial irreverence as mutually exclusive, even for the people you love most. Especially for the people you love most. My best friend is referred to as “Derpnugget” or even “Dipshit” regularly, and she constantly makes mocking reference to the dumbest things I’ve done. But to us, this is not insulting but hilarious, like two drunken dudes at a bar.
Is it possible that the reformed Yukine is something like this for Yato?
*Warning: Worshipful Rant Ahead*
…..I kind of do the same thing with my own god. Bicker good-naturedly with my own god. Because we’ve known each other for years and years. Because he has a sardonic, ironic sense of humor that rubs off on me. Because sometimes he absolutely drives me crazy with how stubborn he is, and how he just won’t let it go and come with me. Because he’s as vain as a peacock and he knows it and doesn’t care. Because for all the problems he has he knows that despite all my bickering I don’t really want Him to change, ever.
Because we’re….friends. We’re not equals— He’s older and wiser and stronger and sometimes I get the sense of this enormous creature and bow and bend my knee, humbled by all I do not know. And sometimes I’m ecstatic with my love for how glorious and passionate He is.
But to treat my friend, my liege, my Life-blood in my veins, my reason for fighting an impossible war I can’t win against injustice and discrimination…like He is cold and distant …is to insult Him, and all that we have been, to His face. It may be that it is simply the difference between a perfect God to whom the lack of criticism is honest, and an imperfect god to whom it would come off as pushing him away.
The Yato/Yukine relationship might fit better as an illustration of your own belief, actually, judging by what you’ve written!
I wonder…what do you think of the Christian God? Do you see him as “perfect,” as Christians do? Is you lack of belief in him due only to feelings you have about your “liege,” (and if I remember correctly, as a response to how God treated him) or is it also due to disagreements you have with Christianity in regards to God’s character?
Well the answer to that question is….complex. Basically…I’m not sure what my opinion on Him is. I believe that the person you are talking about (Whether specifically your conception of Him is mine is another matter entirely) created the universe, and me, and there is a very real possibility that Jesus lived and died and sacrificed himself for us.
But to me….a truly perfect person who knows everything as it really is….wouldn’t have a concept of “justice,” and wouldn’t even send Satan to Hell. A lot of Christians have said, essentially….that it isn’t so much God who damns people as it is they themselves, being unable to bear the presence of God and unwilling to repent. I feel like that’s true…but that the system and the principles that created that circumstance was itself created by God. God created free will, despite knowing all the suffering and all the evil it would cause, and all of the people who would never again taste the Light of God.
Mar’s whole point, what he’s trying to prove in the only way he can think of, is that the tradeoff isn’t worth it, and I kind of half agree with him. He’s right— Torture, starvation, discrimination, brutality, domestic violence, all the wars there have ever been— All of these things couldn’t have happened if we were all naturally subservient to God. The other half wants to believe that somehow he’s wrong, and that free will and agency were worth the creation of evil. But unlike you, I can’t seem to take it on faith and trust in God’s judgment alone. And I cannot leave Mar alone to die, or suffer a fate worse than death. I can’t ever be okay with doing that, even if it’s all just an absurdly elaborate lie. I can’t leave behind my father’s dead body, as it were (Biblical metaphor! :3 ).
I also can see Him from Mar’s perspective, sometimes, showing a fear of (That many humans share) perfection and Love and “innocence” so great, so forgiving, so overwhelming. Beauty so great it is terrifying. And sometimes from mine, showing the warmth of a loving Father when things are so bad there’s nothing to do but cry.
I don’t have a single answer. It’s not a simple question. But thanks for asking. :]
The only possibility in Christian theology that really seems to me to explain the contradictions here is this one:
A perfect being couldn’t torture, but a perfect being could destroy. If Hell is “eternal separation from God,” and God is all things good, that would include consciousness strictly speaking. But this is, of course, a contentious philosophical position to take. We vindictive, vengeance-happy creatures are so in love with punishment. :/
Great post! Though I have not seen this particular show, I loved that you drew so many parallels from it. What you said about not being able to achieve perfection in this life really got me thinking though. I started thinking about what “perfection” really IS anyway. So I did a little study on what scripture says about perfection, and found something interesting…the bible actually says that we who follow Christ are called to be “perfect.” Just to cite one example among many:
“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48 NLT)
My initial impulse was to find this vastly discouraging and unrealistic sounding…but then I realized that MY perspective and expectations of what it means to be “perfect” are not the same as God’s. Looking into various bible translations, I found that the word “perfect” was often interchangeable with “mature,” “complete,” and “fully restored.”
Suddenly I was struck by a new perspective of looking at the matter: What if our perfection is something that is already achieved and ready for us, and we are, even now, being “fully restored” into it? Not by our own attempts or self-effort, but simply by faith that it is being done? We are stuck on this earthly plane that is restricted by time, but God isn’t…He sees our completion, our perfection, already, even if we can’t yet. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? The “new man” in us is already perfect! And each day that passes for us is just a part of our being perfected, as we yield more and more to this new being inside of us.
In short, I realized that it’s exactly as you said: when we let the Holy Spirit reign inside of us, we are automatically transformed.
And I do think that, even though we can acknowledge that it is very difficult, we shouldn’t think that it is impossible to find perfection during our lifetime. We do not know exactly what God has planned years from now, or even tomorrow. Anything could change in an instant. Furthermore, the apostles (and Jesus Himself) would not have exhorted us so many times to “be perfect” if it was an impossible feat. Isn’t that, after all, the end goal? The “prize” to be won at the “end of the race”? We are to be a kingdom of people perfected in the image of Christ. Will it be difficult? Without a doubt. But is it impossible? Not with Christ.
Insightful thoughts, Lisa! Thanks for sharing! I can’t properly respond without doing some research (which I may or may not get to) into the NT verses that talk about perfection. As you state, are we talking about perfection as to maturity in Christ, or are we talking perfection as to being without sin? This is certainly and important topic to look into and get right.
“My initial impulse was to find this vastly discouraging and unrealistic sounding…but then I realized that MY perspective and expectations of what it means to be “perfect” are not the same as God’s. Looking into various bible translations, I found that the word “perfect” was often interchangeable with “mature,” “complete,” and “fully restored.”
And maybe that’s the real Christian answer to what was bugging me. It’s the “Are Fred and George actually less perfect than Harry Potter, or were they just perfectly them?” question, or the “Is one way of loving the only way?” question. Or even, in the voice of another commenter, “Is Sora ‘better’ than Riku necessarily, or is Riku better for having had to fight for it?”
We’re taught by our churches in culture to love God in a specific, rather detached, old Jewish patriarch way that I don’t even love my own father in, and I think he’d be horrified if I did. But that doesn’t for a second mean I love less, or more, or revere less, or more, than the guy who does.