What to die for

In George Bernard Shaw’s play Androcles and the Lion, the character Livinia is about to suffer martyrdom, and the Roman captain asks her whether she isn’t, after all, going to die for nothing. Lavinia, the Christian, does not respond with a stock answer of heroic bravado and passion, but with an answer full of quiet faith in her path, though not in this or that dogma. She is not dying for her dreams, she says, nor for wonder stories. Then for what? she is asked. “I don’t know,” she responds. “If it were for anything small enough to know, it would be too small to die for. I think I’m going to die for God. Nothing else is real enough to die for.”

Faith does not assume that we “know” God, or have mastered the ways of God. On the contrary, this would make God “too small.” However we define God is inadequate, of course, but we must live for this path to God, just as we must die for it.