One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. –Proverbs 11:24-25
Ever say things like, “Well, you get what you deserve”, or “These are my past deeds coming back to haunt me”, or “I must have been really bad in a past life?” I say this stuff, too, sometimes.
Maybe we would make good Hindus, or Buddhists. Words like these reflect an ancient concept present in both of those religions, called Karma.
Karma is the idea that your good and bad deeds will reward or punish you in the life to come. There’s something about the notion of Karma, with its multiple lifetimes and black-or-white morality that can be very alluring to us as Christians.
I’ll find myself playing the Karma game when things go wrong. I’ll think, “I deserve to be punished like this. I wasn’t faithful enough before.” As if Karma somehow evens things out. I’ve heard other people say, “There’s equal amounts of Good and Evil in the world, and this is just the Devil getting his due.”
This is all kind of a Westernized view of Karma. The Hindu and Buddhist concepts are much more nuanced, I’m sure. But when Christians think in terms of Karma, they run the risk of ignoring Christ, which is a shame, because Christ plays by far better rules:
- Christ offers Grace. Even when we don’t deserve it!
- Christ offers Eternal Life present with God.
- Christ offers Goodness that forever tips the scales against evil.
- Christ offers Companionship when the road is hard,
Second Chances when we mess up, and a
Reason for Living that is so much more than simple spiritual accounting.
Even though there are passages, like the one from Proverbs, that can make it sound like the Bible is talking about Karma, ultimately they refer to a God who is an ever-present blessing to us, in good times and bad. We believe that, because of God, the universe is fundamentally skewed towards Grace.
Instead of trying to win at life, as if it’s some cosmic game of Chutes and Ladders, Christians are called to boldly take every step–even the hard ones, because their path is illuminated by the Light of Christ.
Personally, I think Karma is a pretty interesting idea. I’ve even wondered about past lives and reincarnation from time to time. Hinduism and Buddhism both have a great many things to offer and teach us.
But I’ve got no plans to change my colors and abandon Christianity.
Which means, I’m definitely not a…
Have a great week,