Summary: Many religious people - and even Christians - believe in some form of "karma". What's wrong with that? And why should we not accept that view of God?
OPEN: This month we’re exploring “stupid things even Christians believe”, and this morning we’re going to be examining a theology that is seemingly common to every religion on earth.
So many people, in so many religions, believe this particular theology because it seems to make so much sense to them. And it seemingly makes so much sense, that even many faithful Christians can be drawn into it.
This false theology can be summed up by the proverb:
“What goes around comes around”.
Or another way of saying it is: “You get what you deserve.”
One of the common manifestations of this false thinking is the Buddhist concept of “Karma”.
Karma essentially teaches that all people do bad things. Those bad deeds cause suffering and no one wants to suffer. So, in order to undo the damage from those bad deeds, people need to do “good deeds” to balance out the damage of the bad deeds in their lives.
Visualize it like a scales.
On one side of the scales are your bad deeds and on the other side are your good deeds. If your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you have good Karma and you will be blessed. If your bad deeds outweigh the good you’ll have bad Karma… and you will be cursed.
Now the thing about “Karma” is that it actually sounds Biblical.
In Galatians 6:7 we’re told
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Yeah. What goes around… come around.
Sounds like Karma to me!
But there is a difference in mindset between Karma and Christ, and that’s what we’re going to explore this morning.
To the Karma mindset, one can usually tell when another person’s karma is good.
If life is treating them right, if they have good health, if they have a good job and lot so of money: they've got “good karma”. With good karma they avoid suffering and experience blessings.
However if life is gone south on someone… if their relationships and in the tank, their finances are a mess, and they are depressed all the time, … that’s because they have bad Karma. They've done bad things and now they are suffering.
In either case – you deserve what you get.
ILLUS: Ravi Zacharias once told of a group of missionaries and their families who had been killed in a bus accident near a village in a Buddhist country. Within minutes, the bus was ransacked and the bodies pillaged for loot.
The reason? Those who died were only receiving their karma, and there is nothing wrong in taking what is left from one who is paying his or her dues.
(“Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message”, p. 122)
Now, before you think – “Well, that’s just dumb”, you need to realize, a lot of religious people tend to think like that. They think: it makes sense. After all, good people deserve blessings and bad people don’t. Ergo, if you’re in trouble, the fault is probably yours.
God knew how appealing this would be to folks… and so He shared the story of man named Job. If you remember the story, the first chapter of Job introduces us to a righteous man, a good husband and father. A holy man who could be counted on to do the right things. And he is exceedingly blessed by God.
But before long everything starts going wrong for him.
• His riches disappeared.
• His children died.
• His health deteriorated.
• And his wife turned into a bitter shrew of a woman.
As if that weren't bad enough… his friends came over to “comfort him”.
Well… they weren't really there to comfort him.
They were there to correct him, and to condemn him.
In the book of Job, these three friends observe Job’s suffering… and tell him that:
1. All suffering is a result of sin.
2. The greater the suffering the greater the sin.
3. Thus Job, you deserve what you’re getting, and you need to repent.
This can all be summed up by his “friend” Zophar’s comment: “IF you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, THEN you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear.” Job 11:14-15
In other words: it’s YOUR fault, Job.
You've sinned, and that’s the reason you’re suffering.
BUT… if you’d just put away that sin, if you’d just allow no evil in your tent, THEN, you’d be OK!
Now, of course, from the beginning of the story WE know that’s not true.
That’s NOT why Job is suffering.
But these 3 friends don’t know THAT part of the story so they’re allowing their Karma kind of theory to guide them in their advice: