Myth: The God of Karma

Okay, the title might be kind of misleading. Just stick with me here! This will (hopefully) make sense as you read.

Often times, it seems that Christians fall into this ideology that God is a god of karma. We may understand that our works do not save us, but often it seems that we believe that our works will make God love us more or bless us more. This is simply not true. Remember, I have said this before, but Satan only tells lies when they are almost the truth. Our works matter and God blesses us, but these are not related in the way we seem to think they are. Let me explain.

For some reason, as Christians, we tend to fall into this rut of “I am doing all of these things right, but God hasn’t ____.” We believe that our attempts at pleasing God should be met with God bestowing happiness and blessing upon us. This is not the case at all. Jeremiah 17:7 says, “The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is in the Lord, is blessed.” Now, you may be thinking that that means when we trust God, all of this happiness and rainbows and butterflies are just going to come pouring over us.

Reread this verse. The man IS blessed. It doesn’t say that the man WILL be blessed. Although this may appear to be just a small grammatical difference, this is huge. God does not bless the man who trusts in him with things or gifts or anything like that. The man’s blessing comes simply from being in the presence of God. I think that we often forget that being in God’s presence is the greatest blessing of all. That is fulfillment. That is abundance. That is blessing. That is love. That is where we find ourselves. That is where we are complete. That is the only place we are complete. What more could you ask for?

This issue can also be approached from a different angle. The idea of karma is that one can essentially put the universe (or whatever higher being) into his or her debt. The reason this does not work with the idea of the God of the Bible is that Jehova God can never be in our debt. He doesn’t owe us anything. Everything is already his. You cannot make God owe you. You can’t try to do all of things right and then expect some sort of reward. The reward for loving your neighbor is peace, fulfillment, completeness, not an A on the math test you didn’t study for or a little extra money this month. That isn’t how God works. He’s not a credit card. He’s the creator. He’s the savior. No matter what we do in this life, we belong to God. God doesn’t belong to us.

We need to stop seeing God as synonymous to karma. God doesn’t just bless the good and curse the bad. His will, his purpose, his nature is far more complicated than that. We limit God by expecting happiness from simply doing the right things. When we do what is expected of us, that doesn’t merit reward. That’s simply what you were supposed to do.

For the visual learners out there, I am going to apply this to my dad and basketball yet again (big surprise, huh?). My dad was the kind of coach that didn’t get excited too easily. We often saw him standing on the sidelines with his arms crossed in front of him, subtly chewing on a piece of gum, and either nodding or shaking his head ever so slightly. If my dad shows a lot of emotion, it’s serious. You either did something so unbelievably awful that he felt the need to act it out, laugh at you, and sub someone else in, or you did something so great that all he could do was chuckle to our assistant coach and give you a thumbs up. Anyways, THE POINT: If we ran a play correctly, my dad didn’t get all excited and give us all some candy and throw a party for us. He would just nod his head because it was expected.

The same is true for God. God expects us to seek him. Obviously, he knows we are imperfect, but his standard is that we will seek him. Our reward for seeking God isn’t the blessings along the way. Our reward is in heaven. Our reward is to receive exactly what we are searching for. Our reward is God.

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Quit Trying: I Dared You to MOVE.

I recently had a long conversations with someone about arrogance. This person told me that they were trying to live out love and compassion. They told me that they didn’t like their arrogance or any of the dark things inside of them. They told me that they wanted to change. They said that they were trying to change.

This all sounds progressive, right? I will agree that it is a good first step. However, this made me realize something about myself. When was I going to stop trying to change and actually do it? I know I reference my dad and basketball a lot, but here we go again. During basketball, when my dad would explain something, I was in the habit of responding with “Okay, I’ll try.” My dad would always catch me and say, “I didn’t ask you to try. I asked you to do it.”

I realized that I had been passively waiting for Jesus to fix me. That I have been wanting the little inkling of desire to change in my heart to be enough for Jesus to do it for me. Yes, Jesus is the one who changes, but we do have a role in this. We have free will.

Jesus may do the heavy lifting, but we have one decision to make. This is not passive; it is submissive. Submission is active. It is a daily decision. Our decision is whether to turn to Jesus or not. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, if you are a believer, you know that this can be really difficult.

The important thing is that we realize that we have to DECIDE and ACT. Jesus is not just sitting up in heaven manipulating us to do what he wants. Jesus wants us to love him actively. Like I said in my blog post about love a while back, love requires dependence on God. Dependence is an action, not just a decision. We need to stop TRYING to change, and just DO it.