Obviously Karma, an eastern religious concept, isn’t a philosophy Christians should adopt. Yet, how often do Christians act as if they do?
Pastor Tullian Tchividjian thinks Christians often adopt a moralism that isn’t Christian at all, and is a whole lot like the notion of Karma — particularly when it comes to the reasons for suffering.
“Moralists interpret misfortune as the karmic result of misbehavior. This for that. ‘You failed to obey God, so He gave your child an illness.’ Such rule-based economies of punishment and reward may be the default mode of the fallen human heart, but that doesn’t make them any less brutal!” he wrote at Christian Post on July 29.
Tchividjian writes, “The truth is that when you and I insist on that all-too-comfortable paradigm of cosmic score keeping, we’re no longer talking about Christianity. In fact, what we reveal is that we’ve adopted (unwittingly) a Westernized form of Hinduism. We are talking, in other words, about karma. If you are a bad person and things are going well for you, it is only a matter of time before karma catches up with you and ‘you get yours.’ If you are good person, the inverse is true: just be patient and your good deeds will come back to you. This is a simplification of the complex Hindu understanding of history as determined by the past lives of others: that we are all stuck in an eternal cycle of suffering perpetuated by reincarnation.”
I think he’s right, too many of us allow this manmade philosophy to influence the way we think about ourselves and others. Instead, our views need to line up with scripture. The Bible says that we’re all sinners and we all deserve eternal damnation. The good news is that Jesus died on a cross in order to offer us grace: his undeserved and unmerited forgiveness of our sins.
As Tchividjian put it: “On the opposite end of our natural tendency to moralize life and suffering stands the counter-intuitive affirmation of Christianity. Christianity affirms that Jesus severed the link between suffering and deserving once for all on Calvary. God put the ledgers away and settled the accounts. The good news of the gospel is NOT that good people get good stuff. It’s not that life is cyclical and that “what comes around goes around.” Rather, it’s that the bad get the best, the worst inherit the wealth, and the slave becomes a son (Rom.5:8).”
You can find his entire op-ed, which is an excerpt from his upcoming book “Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free,” at The Christian Post. His book comes out Oct. 1, so I may have to see if I can get my hands on a copy to review.