Disarming Karma

The amazing thing about grace is that it has no limits or boundaries. It is free, unconditional and unmerited. Biblical grace is a contradiction to almost everything that American society thinks should happen in the world. But the world continuously promotes the idea of anti-Christian karma and, most of the time, it is easy to just smile and agree with this proposition. Why? Because the truth is that even most Christians are afraid of grace because it takes control out of their hands. Karma makes sense while grace seems irrational.

Karma and the Disciples
Karma made a lot of sense to Jesus’ disciples. In John 9, when they see a man born blind, their first reaction is to ask Jesus if it was this man’s sin or the sin of his parents that caused him to be born with this disability. The disciples operated with a cause and effect mindset. There had to be a reason why this man was suffering. The most likely explanation to them was this man’s personal sin or the transgressions of his family. They thought that personal sin would lead to painful suffering and that righteous living would lead to bountiful blessing. They saw a blind beggar’s suffering as something that he deserved. Karma was at the center of their way of thinking, and they had personally walked with Jesus for a long time!

Karma Makes Sense to Us
It is easy to think that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. This is the way karma works. Everyone gets what they deserve. The idea of “you reap what you sow” seems right, after all. Pastor Tullian Tchvidjian, when talking about karma, once said that, “The appeal of this perspective [of karma] should be fairly obvious: no one gets away with anything. If someone harmed you, she will suffer. If you do good, you will have a good life. Karma puts us in control.” This is what makes sense to all humans in our depraved minds. No matter how Christians look at it, to some extent it is easy to operate with the mindset of retribution. The problem with this way of thinking, though, is that the Christian gospel is counter-intuitive to the way that karma operates. In fact, Christianity ends up saying that the thief on the cross receives paradise (Luke 23:43), and the prodigal son receives compassion (Luke 15:20). Because our debt has been paid by Jesus, Christians are freed from the penalty that karma insisted upon. The price that was warranted for our sins was intercepted by Christ on the Cross. This is the good news.

Undeserved Grace
This is grace: that Jesus Christ took our penalty and our punishment. Just contemplate for a second the fact that no human being has done anything to deserve this! We all were dead in our trespasses and sins! We can look at the karma scorecard and see that every single person deserves hell because of their sin against a holy God. This is why grace is so amazing; grace is one-way love! The grace of God has everything to do with him and nothing to do with our ability to accept or receive it. That is why the Christian gospel always proclaims liberating grace, because it always interrupts the penalty that is deserved with the words, “It is finished”. That is why Jesus came and intervened in our seemingly hopeless situation. He came to reconcile his flock by his pure, free and limitless grace so that men and women could spend eternity with him in Heaven.

Disarming Karma
So the question is whether our understanding of what Jesus has done looks like worldly karma or gospel-saturated grace. Our answer is very important. Take a moment to think about the grace that has been shown by God through Christ Jesus, and karma should be the furthest thing away from your mind. Gospel grace is infinite and immeasurable. It is what the people of this world need. As Robert Capon puts it, “Men need to drink deeply of two-hundred proof grace.” Amen to that!

As Christians there is a need to disarm karma and awaken to grace. Meditating on the works of Christ and continuing to look at the amazing gospel of Jesus is what transforms the karma-centered moralist into a Jesus-dependent, grace-addict. It is only through the gospel that the notion of “what goes around comes around” is truly defeated. It ended over 2,000 years ago when the God-man suffered once and for all for sinful man. He took the penalty that our sins demanded. At the cross, karma was disarmed and gospel grace was awakened for good. Christ took our place and our sin so that we could become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and spend eternity with him in Heaven. So look to the cross and see the amazing work of Jesus that conquered karma, so that your focus can solely be on living out gospel-driven grace to all men.

Matt Manry is the Director of Students at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia and a student at Reformed Theological Seminary. You can follow his blog at gospelglory.net or his twitter @matt_manry.

Share this article