What Is Karma
I need not spend much time explaining what karma is. Many people have a working idea of this belief which was put forth from Hinduism & Buddhism religions. A fancy definition would be: “the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.”
The average way of expressing the belief is: “what goes around, comes around,” or “If you do good, then good things will happen to you. If you do bad, then bad things will happen to you.”
In everyday life we hear it casually referred to in conversations, people warn us of ‘bad karma’, we see it on tip jars in coffee shops, in music/books/film, t-shirts/bumper stickers, adverts, and countless other places.
Despite the idea of “karma” coming from Eastern religions, Western society seems very much on board with the idea of karma. If someone commits a crime & then faces immediate justice, it almost goes without saying that someone will refer to “instant karma” (also a song title). We love to see that kind of karma take place, so what could be so wrong about it?
The Oppressiveness of Karma
I believe karma is actually an oppressive belief that doesn’t liberate us as we would like to believe. Sure, it’s nice to think that if I help someone out, somehow the universe is going to bring good luck and fortune back to me.
But what happens when bad things happen to good people? Or why do good things seem to happen to bad people?
If you’ve been trying to do lots of good things to earn karma points, and then you lose your job, or lose a loved one, or lose money, or someone hurts you (emotionally/physically/spiritually)… you’ll be left wondering, “why me?” You’ll likely ask, “what did I do to deserve this?”
The answer may be: nothing. However, under karma, you would be experiencing this pain & suffering because somewhere along the way you did bad things & now you’re reaping what you sowed into the universe. You might experience feelings of condemnation that bad things are happening to you because you weren’t good enough apparently.
Not to mention the people that do bad things & then seem to get away with it (sometimes even rewarded for it). Think of the person who betrays everyone at work and then gets a promotion. Where’s the bad karma there?
The Christian Alternative
Unfortunately, I’ve heard some Christians state that they also believe in karma. The Bible does not teach that. Also unfortunately, many Christians live as if it’s true even if they don’t say they believe in karma. How?
There are many who approach the Christian life with the mentality: “If I do good, then God will love me & reward me. If I do bad, then God will hate me & judge me.” Unfortunately, the premise is still karma and they’ve just thrown God into the picture.
The Gospel offers something better than karma. The Bible says that we are all bad in our heart, mind, and actions (Romans 3:9-12, 23; 2 Chronicles 6:36; 1 John 1:8, 10; Psalm 51:5, et al.) Therefore, we are all deserving of bad things to happen to us (Romans 6:23, et al.) However, we are saved by grace through faith, not as a result of our works (Ephesians 2:8-10). According to the Bible, good things (ex: salvation, life) happen to bad people (Romans 5:8).
We get that which we don’t deserve. We deserve eternal death because of our sin, but we get eternal life because of Jesus’ grace. This is not dependent upon whether you are a good person or a bad person. This is dependent upon the grace of God towards those who have faith in Him.
The Christian life is not about doing good so that God will love us & reward us; rather, it is about glorifying God no matter what because He already loves us. There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more & nothing we can do to make Him love us less. This is not oppressive karma or works-based living.
Someone might be tempted to wonder if they’ve done enough to earn God’s love & if they’ve been good enough to get into Heaven. If you believe in Jesus, God is not going to punish you & then punish Jesus as well. You might experience trials, pain, and suffering as a result of sin in the world. Sometimes a parent allows their child to face pain so that they can learn & grow from it. Such is the case with our Father God.
Fortunately, Christianity offers a better alternative than karma. It’s called the Gospel.
– Tyson Bradley