I was raised in the Baptist church. After flirting with Islam while enrolled in (my very Jesuit) college I settled on being a Quaker philosophically. I suppose I have identified with the Religious Society of Friends since 2007, but I am one of those lames who just subscribes to the magazines without attending the meetings. Shout out to the Friends Journal, though.
Even as I drifted away from from organized religion, I remained a fan of gospel music, particularly anything produced before 1985 or so. Always been an old soul, so I like my gospel as old and as soulful as it possible without actually being a slave holler.
“He Decided to Die” has been one of my favorites for a while now. This morning, knowing it was Good Friday, I listened to this hymn and was able to internalize it in a different way for the first time.
He decided to die.
He could have saved himself, but he decided to die, believing this was the way to save everybody. He was a sacrifice for the saving of others, for you, for me, etc.
I am not a traditional Christian. I do not understand why this works theologically. But millions believed it before I did, so okay, whatever. My point here is not the mystical aspects of the death of Jesus, but to be able to say “Wow, this dude was so convinced of this that he made a decision to die.”
Imagine a parent who gives their child the last parachute in a plane which is about to crash.
A brother who gives his sister the last life preserver on a sinking ship.
A cop who jumps in the line of fire to save his partner.
People, just like you and me, who make a decision that they must die so another may live.
These themes tie into a work of fiction that I have had in my head for literally a dozen years. Can’t divulge details now… but I can literally say “Thank you, Jesus” for helping me bring it all together.
And I must say, whether you are the staunchest Christian or an atheist, I don’t think the most important message to be drawn here is necessarily one of salvation. (And truly, if you’re not Christian, you’d be off-put by that.) I think the message here is that someone believed he had to die and was willing to do so for the sake of others. So whether you believe or not or you’re just not sure, maybe you can relate to just that one piece.
Happy Easter to some, happy weekend to all.