You’ve all heard it or perhaps uttered the saying: “What Goes Around Comes Around.” Or, to put it more crassly: “If you’re a sleazeball then you’re going to get what’s coming to you and if you’re a nice person like Mother Teresa then good things will come your way at some point down the road.”
Different cultures and religions have their own version of this moral maxim. Some cite Karma while Christians quote the Apostle Paul: “A man reaps what he sows.” Most people are unaware of the subtle, but important differences between the two. Karma is anchored in reincarnation. This teaches that when someone dies, they get a new body, as a human, animal or spirit, based on their previous life. The choices in their previous life dictate the type of body they get in the next life and the one after that and the one after that as the unending cycle of reincarnation continues. Therefore, good people get good karma and bad people get bad karma.
The Bible also teaches that good actions are rewarded while bad actions are punished. But, that’s where the similarities between Karma and Christianity end. The God of the Bible is a personal God who sees all and knows all as opposed to the impersonal force associated with Karma.
The Bible’s story hinges on God taking on human flesh to in order to remedy the problem of human sin both in this life and the one to come. So, the message and mission of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, gives hope to those who fear an eternity defined either by Karma or Hell. The God of the Bible offers forgiveness for every sinner who seeks it and in turn places their saving faith in who Jesus is and what He did for them through His death, burial and resurrection. But, the Bible story doesn’t end at the empty tomb. Instead, it concludes with God judging the wicked and rewarding the righteous at the end of human history.
Yet, this is where reality collides with faith. Our faith tells us that God will judge the wicked, but our experience teaches us otherwise. In this life, it sure seems like God lets many people get away with doing a lot of terrible things. A man walks out on his wife and kids for a younger woman. Life for him is grand and yet his wife and kids are shattered. When we see things like this, we have to wonder if his chickens will ever come home to roost.
As we return to our study on the life of Jacob in Genesis 29:1-30, we see a man who cheated his brother Esau out of his inheritance by taking advantage of his blind father. What does God do to him? Does He immediately strike Jacob with blindness or some other infirmity? Nope, instead He reaffirms the covenant He made with his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham.
So, it’s no surprise that Jacob arrives in his mom’s hometown brimming with hope and optimism. His problems appear to be behind him and his future seems bright. Too many people, Christians included, are just like Jacob. They think they can sow seeds of wickedness and somehow miss out on the harvest.
This article is an excerpt from my sermon series in Genesis. All are welcome to join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 am. Lighthouse Community Baptist Church is located at 22 Pequot Trail in Pawcatuck.