A Growing Belief in Karma Among Christians
“The Vedas tell us, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil.”
I guess it would be just as easy to say that, “What goes around, comes around,” when trying to understand the concept of karma. This eastern concept that has its roots in Hinduism has migrated into the western mind and has intensified over the last few decades. It has become a common belief among many today that believe in karma’s doctrine without much understanding of what it truly is. But the most concerning part of this growing trend is the usage of it by many Christians.
I wont lie. Karma’s initial understanding is pretty attractive in the way we are using it today. The idea that when someone wrongs me there is a universal scale that is going to balance out all of the wrong that has been done against me... that can give me some comfort that evil will get what it deserves. Biblically we could develop a similar theme given. We find an example in the Psalms as it states:
“He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.”
Sounds like the bad guys received what they deserved. A crisp serving of karma to those who do wrong and getting what they deserve. Karma, in how we are using it in a modern sense and not a real Hindu sense, can be similar to verses throughout the bible (Prov. 11:21, Isa. 3:11, Ezek. 18:20, Prov. 10:16) but does not truly equal what God's Word tells us. Heres why.
The Wicked Prospering and Karma don’t mix
I can make a list right now of some horrible people who got what they deserved. But I can also make a list of some horrible people who never really got what they deserved. At the same time we could all make a list of family and friends who lived upright moral lives who had a difficult life or died expectantly.
Jeremiah struggled when he saw the wicked who were not getting what they deserved:
“Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
You plant them, and they take root;
they grow and produce fruit;”
Jesus Himself gives us the understand of the wicked an how are suppose to function with our interactions with those who are evil.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
If Jesus truly had believed in karma then he would have no need to teach his disciples to love their enemies. Jesus underwood how God related to humanity. He knew that in the case of the universe good came to both bad and good people and bad came to bad and good alike. Instead of trying to create a scale Jesus goes farther and tells us to love those who are our enemies. Jesus understands the situation that our world is faced with when it comes to evil. Evil exists and flourishes yet we are not to find comfort in evil doers getting what they deserve. Instead we are taught to love those who are evil.
Grace and Karma don’t mix
The main reason why karma does not need to encompass our thoughts and how we relate with other people is that it does not measure up to the doctrine of grace.
Comparing the two we see that:
Karma rests on the scale of good and evil balancing out.
Grace rests on the blood of Jesus making a way for all humanity because we are all evil.
When our lips utter a reliance on karma in our life situations we are ultimately saying that we do not trust in the grace of Jesus. Trust in karma to do its work when we are wronged is placing our hope in an empty void that accomplishes nothing. This new trust in karma may be a sign that many do not understand grace to begin with. When we truly look at ourselves we realize that any scale put up against our life is going to tip toward darkness. John gives us a truth many have a difficult time believing:
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
If we are being honest with ourselves, very few people’s “life scales” are going to weigh toward the good end and even a lot of our seemingly good has ill intentions. Truthfully we are all evil. Since this is true, we all need grace. Those that wrong you or help you do not need karma to balance the situation, they are in need of Jesus.
So today lets focus in on the pure love of Jesus and throw away the scale of karma in our minds and the way that we treat people.
Caleb Rawls is the pastor at Pleasant Home Baptist Church located in Laurel Mississippi. He and his wife Taylor work to lead the church to grow closer to Jesus and help others encounter Jesus. They also have a golden-doodle named Tiglath-Pilesar IIII.
In this article we do not have time to dabble in our relation with justice when it comes to evil. Just because we are called to love our enemies does not mean we should sit by and watch evil prosper.