A Hindu philosopher once said, “Unless you specifically declare that you are not a Hindu, you are a Hindu,” – and I’ve come to believe that all humans really are intrinsically Hindus and that we all instinctively believe in karma. Just think about when anything out of ordinary happens – good or bad – what is your automatic response? I bet it is, “What did I do to deserve this?” In our “Christian Hinduism,” we blame or credit so many different things. Maybe it’s tithing. If we have been consistent with giving God His ten percent, we tend to want to pat ourselves on the back and say, “Of course, I deserve this blessing; I’ve been honoring God with my first fruits!” And if we have been slack in this area, we find it easy to point to this negligence – or possibly even outright rebellion – as the cause for the “curse” that has attached itself to our finances. Then we go a step further and point toward “sowing seed” beyond the tithe – or the lack thereof – as either the benefactor or the culprit when good or bad things happen to us. Of course, we often summarize our situation as the result of either our excellent trust in God or not believing strongly enough; our diligent discipline of Bible reading or not “being in the Word enough”; our dedication to renewing our minds or our slackness that allowed doubt and unbelief to creep in; our consistent prayer life or our failure to either pray hard enough, long enough, in the Spirit enough, or with exactly the right wording. And then, if we can’t really pinpoint any apparent cause for the “bad karma” in our lives, we can simply blame our ancestors for putting some sort of “generational curse” upon us.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in tithing, sowing seed, studying the Bible, renewing our minds, prayer, and – as they say – the “whole nine yards” of Christian discipline; however, we have to be more discerning than to just point a ready finger at any of these activities and feel that we have a pat answer for the troubling questions of life. In doing so, we have adopted a works mentality that requires us to earn good things in life. Such an attitude totally negates the beautiful plan of God – the plan of grace in which He gives us His blessings as a free gift.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Notice that this verse confirms that we are to do good works (tithe, sow seeds, read our Bibles, pray, believe); however, these good deeds and disciplines are the outgrowth of what God has done in us through His freely given grace – not the methods through which we earn good things in our lives.
Let’s test the good-karma-bad-karma hypothesis against the Bible, and there is no better place to start than at the beginning. Therefore, let’s turn to Genesis chapter four and see if this principle holds up in the examination of the lives of the first siblings on the planet. By picking the story of Cain and Abel, we are able to eliminate the “generational curse” argument since there was only one generation prior to the the story of these young men. Since the two boys both shared exactly the same lineage, any “curse” that could have passed down through the bloodline would have affected both boys equally. Thus, according to the “Christian Hinduism” principles that seem to be so prevalent in the church today, there is only one possible reason that the two boys turned out differently – their actions and the “karma” that these actions produced. There are only two actions recorded for each of these boys – the choice of careers that they were to follow and the offering that they presented to the Lord. Cain chose to be a farmer, while Abel opted for a career in livestock. Their career choices essentially determined what offerings they could present when they came to worship the Lord. Some who would look for a reason for Cain’s downfall like to point to the fact that he presented a vegetable offering rather than a blood offering as his brother did. As spiritual as this explanation may look on the surface, we have to discount it since God Himself specifically commanded that we give offerings of the fruit of the ground (Leviticus 2:1-16; 6:14-18; 7:9-10; 10:12-13) and the devout Jews obediently tithed on every sprig they harvested (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42). Others who recognize that God accepts – or actually requires – vegetable offerings are forced to look a little deeper to find a reason for Cain’s disgrace, and they come up with the fact that he made his offering in the process of time (Genesis 4:3) whereas his brother’s offering came from the firstlings of his flock (Genesis 4:4). Their implication is that Cain was nonchalant about his offering and gave it “when he got around to it,” while Abel was diligent and gave his offering as soon as a kid or lamb was birthed. Of course, we only need to take one step back from the text to see the flaw in this logic. Abel obviously could not make an offering until his livestock had calved. That meant that he had to wait for his original animals to reach maturity, breed, and then go through the gestation period before he could give his first fruits offering. Cain was subject to the same sort of time restraint in the giving of his offering since he had to wait for the right season to plant his seed, then he had to wait for the plants to sprout and grow, and then he had to continue waiting for the harvest to ripen – as Jesus Himself described in Mark 4:28, the process of time. In fact, the reaping of a grain offering would have come in the first year that he started farming; whereas, it would have taken Abel’s livestock more than one season to reach sexual maturity before he could breed them. Thus, it is likely that Cain’s offering actually preceded Abel’s by a year or more – totally invalidating the idea that the timing was a determining factor in God’s eyes. The very fact that the biblical account records Cain’s offering first may be a suggestion that it actually chronologically predated the blood offering of his brother.
So, what was the real reason for the difference between these two young men? The answer is clearly obvious in verse five, “Unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” Notice that the issue was with Cain himself, not his actions. Apparently, the problem with Cain’s person spilled over into his offering. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this same principle when he said that the abominable condition of the hearts of the people made their sacrifices as if they were offering the lives of humans, the flesh of dogs, and the blood of pigs (Isaiah 66:3), and Jesus Himself taught us that we should not make an offering as long as there are unreconciled differences between us and our brothers (Matthew 5:24). Apparently, Cain was the first example of the biblical principle of a person who does everything right externally but whose heart is distant and separated from the Lord. (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8, Mark 7:6) In this case – if Cain had bad karma, it was a result of who he was in his heart, not what he did with his actions.
Of course the real “nail in the coffin” of “Christian Hinduism” in this story is that fact that Abel is the one who was killed. Even though he was the brother that God honored, he was the one who became the innocent victim of his brother’s murderous rage – a good person to whom a very bad thing happened!
Before we go any further with our study, we have to consider Job – the “poster boy” of good people experiencing bad things. Although Job is repeatedly referred to by God Himself as being “perfect and upright” (Job 1:1, 1:8), those who hold to the “Christian Hinduism” principle that there must have been something – some bad karma – in his life that warranted his misfortune look far and wide for a peg upon which that can hang some blame. They usually come up with what they consider a negative confession in verse twenty-five of chapter three, “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” Although many Bible teachers say that Job had lived in a perpetual state of anxiety about the loss of all his goods, there is nothing in the narrative to substantiate such a claim. There is only one thing that is ever mentioned in terms of a concern on Job’s part – the possible loss of the physical and spiritual lives of his children.
And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. (Job 1:4-5)
Let’s notice several things about Job’s concern over his children’s wellbeing. The first and most obvious one was that he didn’t stop with the concern or worry; he proactively intervened. Rather than waiting for something bad to happen and then going into intercession for a remedy, Job made a habit of aggressively arbitrating on their behalf as a precautionary measure. The next thing we must notice is that as soon as Job got the news about the catastrophe that struck his son’s home – taking the lives of all his children – Job reacted by falling to the ground and worshiping. (Job 1:20) The scripture goes on to say that in all this calamity Job did not sin or blame God foolishly. (Job 1:22) In essence, Job did have a concern – one that was of gargantuan proportions. But there was nothing unhealthy about his concern; it was the natural concern that any godly parent should have for his or her children. Furthermore, the way that he handled his concern was totally appropriate. He was not – as we would say today – a “helicopter parent,” hovering over his children nagging them about his apprehension. Instead, he took his worry directly to God. When the thing that he had greatly feared became a reality, he did not accuse God of having failed him; instead, he fell on his face and worshipped God – recognizing that God had not forsaken him or his request. Even though Job didn’t understand what was going on, he trusted God through the entire ordeal. So, if he did have some “bad karma” because of his fears and concerns, the “good karma” that he assimilated through his positive actions and attitudes would have more than canceled out his “bad karma.”
Again, we have to totally discredit the natural response to look at our actions to find a reason for the good or bad things that happen in our lives. “Christian Hinduism” cannot coexist with biblical Christianity!