By: Woodrow Odom Lucas
Some believe that Karma and Reincarnation are perverse concepts that cannot cohere with the notion that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. But I, a Christian, believe in Karma and reincarnation too. I believe that many souls come back to the earth sometimes as many as several thousand times before they learn the lessons necessary to escape karma, the law of sowing and reaping, and move out into the heavenly and cosmic bliss. The bible confirms the notion of reincarnation in a couple places. Implicitly, in Jude wherein Jude is talking about false prophets and says, “for certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude goes on to say that these false prophets were foaming out their own shame, which implies that they had lived shameful lifetimes in the past which they are now working out. And then the bible explicitly supports the notion of reincarnation, in Matthew 17:12 where Jesus refers to John the Baptist as Elijah reincarnated and says, “but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased.”
The bible implicitly confirms the notion of Karma wherein Paul says in Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Now I believe that several sages from non-Christian religions have transcended karma through devotion, renunciation, or some other path. But these people are definitely in the minority. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Now some Christians believe that in Matthew 7:14, Jesus is referring to the “narrow few” who find Jesus and give their lives to him, but this could not be talking about salvation through Jesus, because in most cases Jesus finds us through a preacher or a movie or a revelation that moves us to give our lives to him, we do not find Jesus. Did Jesus not say in Matthew 18:12 that he is willing to leave the ninety nine to find the one lost sheep? And did not Paul say in Romans 10:14, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” If we need a proclamation by another to bring us to saving faith in Jesus, then how could we be searching for Jesus before this happens? How can we search for a name or a character with whom we are not yet familiar? No in Matthew 7:14, Jesus is talking about the few wise master souls who have learned throughout the ages to transcend Karma without explicit faith in Christ.
Karma is a construct created by God to eventually be transcended just by us living life, from one life time to another and learning the lessons therein. But I believe that this takes so long in most cases that many Eastern sages are spot on when they refer to the process as Samsara or in some definitions, “ignorant suffering.” Now some replace the notion of reincarnation and karma as the way in which God executes his/her justice on the earth with the notion of eternal hell. Some believe that we are so wicked as human beings that we all deserve to be in a state of torment for eternity and that the only way to be freed from this deserved punishment is receiving what Jesus Christ did for all of us on the cross into our souls and declaring him as Lord and Savior. In us declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior and receiving his act of atonement on the cross we become free from the just punishment of eternal suffering and are freed to live lives of sacrifice, mercy, compassion, and victory. I view this eternal hell notion to be problematic because it is too extreme a point of view. Human beings are neither totally evil nor totally good, we are always some mixture of the two. And our works are not totally evil or totally good, they are always some mixture of the two. So to claim that we all deserve the exact same penalty, based on the exact same anatomy, living itself out in perfect disobedience errs on the side of extremism and does not aspire to Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:5 to let our moderation be known unto all men. The only way that a human being could deserve eternal suffering is if they sowed eternal suffering, and because no human being has ever lived long enough to sow eternal suffering it is impossible for any human being to reap eternal suffering. Even if one was to extrapolate in such a way as to say that perhaps one person sowed suffering in another person, and then that person in turn sowed suffering to another person, and then that person to someone else, even if we say that one person caused enough suffering to last several billion lifetimes, it would still be a limited amount of suffering that they had coming to them and would consequently not be eternal.
Now there is another version of the eternal hell point of view which depicts human beings as the victims of a cosmic struggle between God and the devil, in which we all unfortunately “belong” to the devil and so unless we give our lives to Jesus and allow him to “save” us from the devil’s bondage we will have to suffer eternity in the merciless torments that the devil conceives for us. I believe that this point of view is delusional. If the devil were truly in charge of the earth and the cosmos, things would be much worse. A child would not be able to leave their house unless armed with a gun to fend off murderers and rapists. And while there are enclaves of experience on the earth that are actually this dismal, devastated circumstances like these are not in the majority but rather the minority.
So, again I believe that Karma and Reincarnation are much more subtle and accurate ways to understand God’s justice in our lives than the eternal hell/eternal heaven dichotomy. This is not to say however that I do not believe in hell. I believe that hell is a place and/or consciousness of torment that people enter into both during and after their earthly life times. I believe that there are various reasons why people suffer hell. Jesus suffered hell to save us all. Some suffer hell as a learning process. Some suffer hell because the devil deceives them into it. Some suffer hell because other human beings impose it on them. Some may suffer hell because they died violently. But the truth about hell is that number one, it rarely conforms to an exact system of justice, number two, it always eventually works toward our good, and number three, IT IS ALWAYS TEMPORARY AND NEVER ETERNAL!!!
Now in this discussion, I have asserted that Karma and Reincarnation are very real manifestations of reality, that hell is a very real but temporary manifestation of reality, and that eternal hell is an ultimately useless delusion. But the title of this discussion, is “Jesus the Christ an end to Karma.” In the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, many of the gurus in Yogananda’s account would take on the “Karma” of their devotees to accelerate the process of their devotees’ liberation. What if we all had a “Grand Guru” or a “Grand Master Soul” an “Ancient of Days” who helped to create us and knows us better than we know ourselves. Now what if this, “Son of Man,” saw our suffering as we kept living the same mistakes over and over again, lifetime after lifetime. And what if this “Mediator between God and Man” decided to become born among us, a being like no other, a little lower than the angels, in the form of a servant. And what if he through the strength of his character was able to bear all of the karmic justice that had been generated or would ever be generated? And that after bearing that karmic justice in his life and on a cross on which he was sacrificed, he mastered this karmic justice, so that through belief in him one could transition from the system of karma and reincarnation to the system of abundant life through Christ? What if these questions that I am asking, are really statements of truth? What if Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that through him we can transcend the law, Karma, and operate in the Mother’s/Father’s unconditional mercy and grace at all times?
It is my supposition, that Jesus can free us from the law of karma to inherit supernatural mercy and show supernatural mercy and to inherit supernatural grace and show supernatural grace. Jesus is our way out of samsara. And even with him as our Lord and with him as our new system of justice, the journey will not always be easy. And given the implications of Matthew 6:22 there is a slight chance that even with Jesus as our chosen guide and Savior we might have to live more than one lifetime. But I believe that Jesus is not just a better way, he is the best way, and I would choose him over the exact justice of Karma anytime. Thank you Lord Jesus for your saving sacrifice on the cross and your victorious resurrection from the grave. Please save every last one of us in such a way that we surrender our lives to you instead of trying to do it all by ourselves. We need you Jesus and Karma proves that is almost impossible for us to do it by ourselves. Give us your Grace Lord Christ!! Give us your Grace!!!!