Karma’s a joke. It’s a joke we love to believe in, isn’t it? The whole premise of the best-selling book “The Secret” is that good things will come to you if you put out good things into the world (vibes, energy, whatever you want to call it).
I call it hogwash.
It doesn’t take any adult very long in this world to see that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Conversely, sometimes good things happen to bad people. There’s no promise that putting put positivity will return positivity to you. In fact, one of the questions the Old Testament wrestles with is how bad people can lead horrible lives and still have everything they want and go to the grave having had a fantastic life. It just isn’t fair.
I was having a conversation with a woman today who told me that she still believes that being a good person will ultimately result in good things happening because people are more likely to want to help you, like when you’re stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire. “HOLD ON,” I told her.
I agree with you that our behavior has the ability to influence how others respond to us. If people know that I am a decent and caring human being then there is a good chance that people will be decent and caring towards me. If I’m a real jerk then people will probably not be as inclined to help me. But that’s not karma. That’s interpersonal relationships. The side of the road analogy IS karma, and that’s garbage.
My goodness (or badness) is not going to influence a driver who passes me in my distress. I personally have no impact over a stranger driving by. Karma doesn’t work. But here’s the thing – a lot of people base their own behavior on this idea that do good and good happens. Do bad and bad things happen. I find this to be a very flawed view of ethics. In essence it says, “I will only behave appropriately because I believe that I will personally benefit from it at some point in time.”
This is no standard for ethical behavior. It is inconsistent, and the definition of “good behavior” subjectively changes from one person to another. There must be something more – some greater force that drives human behavior. This is where Christian faith steps up and says, “There IS a standard – God’s standard.” And every human behavior does have a consequence. We might not see consequences in this lifetime. We might have the good people suffer and the bad people succeed, but no one escapes the final reckoning. The Bible is clear that there will be a time when we all stand before God and give account of our lives.
I know many people who are going through difficult times right now. Some have relationship problems. Some have financial problems. Some have other problems. Just because you are a good person doesn’t mean you will have a good and easy life. So then what drives us to be good people?
It should be our relationship with God. In the Bible he tells us that he wants us to imitate him: his character and behavior. If I live out what I say I believe then I will be trying to make God’s character my character. This is the only foundation of ethical behavior that will hold fast no matter what circumstances might come our way. In the good times I strive to act like him. In the bad times I strive to act like him. Those ethics are constant in an ever changing world.
No matter how good you are you are not promised good things. Jesus, the best human, still had bad things happen to him. It’s not about karma. It’s about living up to the character and calling God gives us. So kick karma goodbye. Say adios, sayonara, or use whatever language you like. But the secret to The Secret is that there is no secret. We are good because God asks us to be, not because we want good things to happen to us.
How about you? Do you struggle with letting go of the idea of karma?
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~ That Voodoo that You Do: Getting Control of Your World