Karma: the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person. – Merriam Webster Dictionary
A few days ago I had a near-death experience. Staring at a green light, I delicately pressed down on the accelerator as I eased up on the clutch. It had only been one week since I learned how to drive a stick shift, and with determination on my face, I slowly inched forward without stalling or revving the engine.
However, as I began to roll out into the intersection, a car sped through the red light just in front of me. My heart seemed to stop, and I gave a shocked look to my friend in the passenger seat. With the comfort of an automatic transmission, I would have gone much quicker into the intersection and been hit. Both of us would have almost certainly died.
After the seriousness of the situation passed, my friend and I soon began to joke about what would happen to the rogue driver. Each of us expressed the half-hearted hope that something “almost” terrible would happen to him/her as well. As our ideas continued to get more and more ridiculous, the serious question of karma soon arose.
Do people really get what they deserve?
Christianity works a little bit like karma, right?
And thank goodness those are the answers.
What We Deserve
Believe it or not, there is one thing that I really like about karma: justice. I believe that the idea of karma originates from an intrinsic longing that all people are born with. We all hope that there will be punishment for evil and reward for good. As Christians, we worship a God who promises to punish the wicked for their deeds. There will most certainly be justice for the wrongdoers.
The difference, however, is that we are all wrongdoers. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 8:23). This is plain and simple to see. In fact, almost anyone would admit that no perfect people exist. As a result, we all deserve eternal death. Now, I understand that this is a difficult and tricky concept. Some people are certainly better than others, so why do all deserve Hell? It is because we have sinned against an all-powerful, perfect, and eternal God. Perfection is the standard, and we have crossed over the line. Regardless of how far we have gone, anyone on this side of the line is labeled a “sinner.” We are punished not only for the type of transgression, but more importantly, for whom the transgression is against. We see this in our world today. For example, if I were to illegally shoot an animal, my punishment would be far less than if I were to shoot a person. The same is true for God, but on an infinite scale. We sinned against Him. If we were all allowed to get what we truly deserve, then we would be in Hell right now. That’s a scary thought.
What We Get
I am so thankful that God does not give us karma. Instead what we get is a word called “grace.” Grace is the antithesis of karma. The two stand diametrically opposed. They stare at each other in opposite corners of the ring, and when the bell sounds, grace wins.
Grace wins every time.
Grace is the death of karma.
We stood before God empty handed. We had nothing to give him – no good works to earn our salvation. Nothing that could give us perfection. Nothing that could give us Him. And anything less than Him is indeed Hell. That’s what we had earned. That’s what karma had given us.
But in an unthinkable act of love, God himself stooped down and placed in our hand a cup of salvation, taking for himself the one we deserved – the divine cup of wrath.
Feeling the weight of our sin, Jesus cried out, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”(Matthew 26:42) And as he hung on the cross just before he died, Jesus said “It is finished.” (John 19:30). The wrath that we deserved was fully laid upon Him.
So now we stand with a cup of salvation and undeserved grace. What a gift we have been given – a gift we can share with others.
Through faith in Christ, we received what we had not earned.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Talk about near-death experiences…
“What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.” – Psalm 116:12-13
Grace and Karma stand in opposite corners of the ring, and when the bell sounds…Grace wins. Grace wins every time.