It occurs to me that karma is the very opposite of grace. Grace, as any sixth grade confirmation student should be able to tell you, is God’s unmerited or unearned favor. There’s nothing we can do to deserve it. God acts first, effectually, and decisively. His bestowal of his good gifts is his initiative…unmotivated by anything we bring to the table.
It seems to me that karma is all about our performance. In particular, it’s about our good works. If we do good works we get good karma. If we do bad works we get bad karma. I’m not sure how that balancing act works. I’m not sure what authoritative source even discusses karma. The logic seems to be that there’s some impersonal universal force keeping up with our good deeds and bad deeds and rewarding us or punishing us accordingly, like some cosmic Pez dispenser. By the way, in this system, what standard determines good or bad deeds? How good is good and how bad is bad? Do we get partial credit? How many good works do we have to perform (and for how long) so that we get good karma? Does karma grade on a curve? Seems a bit confusing.
God’s grace is nothing like that. If God gave us what we deserved, we would all be going to hell in a hand-basket. But he offers us grace. He offers us what we don’t deserve. It’s not about our performance but Someone else’s. Through the person and work of Christ (his righteous and sinless life, death, and resurrection), the debt for sin has been paid in full (1 Peter 3:18). The personal God of the universe accepts Christ’s substitutionary life and death on behalf of those who place their trust in him. His righteousness is imputed to our account through faith alone. Because the personal God of all there is first showed the world how great his love for his children is, we’re now able to love God and others in return. I’ll take God’s grace over arbitrary karma any time.
PS – Should we pursue good works? You bet! We were created to do good works (Eph. 2:10). But they are the fruit of our salvation, not the cause of it. Our good works, like fruit, grow from our relationship with God in Christ. They do not earn it.
Grace and Truth,