Here’s a little quiz for you.
True or false?
- You get good things from God by being good.
- Sometimes God will cause you to go through hard times to make up for the mistakes you’ve made.
- God helps those who help themselves.
The answer to all three statements is false.
In his message this week on Time of Grace, Pastor Mike explored how people who are quite flawed can be quite blessed by God’s amazing presence in their lives. That sounds awesome. Almost like something people would put on coffee mugs and T-shirts: Flawed but blessed. Isn’t it wonderful?
But as Pastor Mike relayed, the concept is profound. When you go deeper than seeing this theoretically and let it permeate your life, you’ll find how often people tend to think of a relationship with God like Karma Christianity. But the Bible tells us how to find peace through real Christianity.
Karma is the notion that good actions and motivations lead to good future outcomes for you. A karma form of Christianity sees God as someone who rewards you for being good and punishes you or withholds good if you mess up.
As referenced in Pastor Mike’s message, Jacob was a pretty messed-up guy. He was a liar and a cheat. He deceived his own father and brother. He schemed with his mom to weasel himself into getting a special, once-in-a-lifetime blessing that was not intended for him. When his dad found out, he was beside himself. When his brother found out, he was ready to kill Jacob. So Jacob ran for his life. Now what would a karma form of Christianity say about this? It would say that Jacob did bad things with bad intentions, so he should expect bad results.
Karma Christianity isn’t Christianity at all.
What did God do? He showed up for Jacob. He helped and encouraged him. He blessed him and promised him incredibly good things. Christianity, as taught in the Bible, is all about grace. It’s not reward and punishment for the way you think and live. It’s love that was never deserved. It’s getting the opposite of what you’ve earned. It’s being accepted by God when you would expect to be rejected.
Now there are plenty of cases where we might need to deal with ramifications of our errors. There are natural implications that can make our lives more difficult because of our stupidity. But in the Bible, God wants us to know that he’s not dealing with us according to karma. Instead, “when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). We didn’t deserve any of it, but he did it anyway. Because he loves us.
Let this undeserved love permeate your life. When you have an especially terrible week, you’ve messed up just about every project, you’ve treated your family horribly, most people in your life are upset with you, and you know it’s all your fault, you will naturally think that God must be mad at you too. He may not be happy about the way you’ve handled things, but when you believe in Jesus, that anger is averted. Truly, when you’re God’s child, even when everyone else is mad at you, God’s not mad at you. Because Christianity isn’t about karma. It’s about grace.
When you’ve been rejected by every boyfriend, rejected by every prospective employer, or rejected by your family, it is really hard not to feel like a worthless waste of humanity. You might naturally think that if no one else seems to want to be around you, why would God? But when you are in Christ, God is delighted in you! He longs to be around you. He lights up when he sees your face. Even if it seems like no one else does. Because Christianity isn’t about karma. It’s about grace.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, how long you’ve rejected God, or how icky you feel when you think about your past. God wants you to know he doesn’t deal with you on a performance basis. If he did, no one would make the cut. Instead, he comes to you when you’re running away. He helps and encourages you. He blesses you and promises you incredibly good things.
Because that’s just what he does. He’s all about grace—love that you never deserved. But it’s yours.
Isn’t real Christianity so much better?