Grace vs. Karma

Without karma, how do you get stuff done in the church?

Yesterday’s message got me thinking about the mistake many people, even church people, make in regards to grace. Here’s what those two terms mean and why they are opposites.

Grace is receiving unmerited favor. In other words, you get what you don’t deserve.

Karma is the effects of your past deeds is your future experience. In other words, you get what you pay for.

The Karma Conspiracy. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most people in ministry believe in grace but practice and perpetuate karma in their ministry. Not all, but nearly all.

1. I missed my kids soccer game because I was preparing for my message on Sunday.

2. Come be a part of God’s vision and serve at the spaghetti dinner.

3. Partner with God in the vision of our church by tithing.

4. Join a small group this fall and be a part of what we’re doing.

Now, you’ll see those statements and not see the karma connection. Since I’ve been guilty of all four of those let me translate into what most (nearly all) pastors are thinking when they say these things.

1. If I work hard good things will happen in my church.

2. I am capitalizing on your false belief that working in the church will merit favor in order to fill a job roster.

3. I am exploiting on your belief that if you give to God He will give more back to you.

4. By asking you to do something you don’t want to do, I am perpetuating your false belief in karma with the hope that you’ll discover grace.

See, this is a tricky thing. And I don’t think any pastor does it intentionally. Yet I think that karma is so engrained in our culture that we perpetuate it unknowingly.

Question: How do we stop this? How do we allow grace, true unmerited favor from God, to permeate everything we do in ministry and in life?

Hint: I think both the problem and the solution are found here.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

1 comment

  1. Great post, Adam.

    Reminded me of something Bono said in a CT interview: http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/interviews/2005/bono-0805.html

    You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

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