We’ve written a lot on Crosswalk about Christians and swearing, whether or not it’s ever appropriate, and what the Bible can tell us about the repercussions unwholesome speech has on our spiritual lives.
But Gospel Coalition contributor Erik Raymond believes there are a few more 4-letter words Christians should “modify with quickness.” Those words are “fate” and “luck.” (He also adds “karma” to his list). Raymond believes when we use these words, we undermine the providence of God and are “losing something of our identity as Christians.”
“[W]e serve a precise God. He is to get glory in all that we do. And this includes how we think and speak about him. If we are saying things attack, undermine, blur or otherwise detract from a truth that God means to get glory from—shouldn’t we stop? Don’t you want to stop these things?
If you get a new job, is this God’s providence or a lucky break? Do you think the God who orders and upholds all things means to get glory from the new job? What about when someone’s disease clears up or is healed? Is this luck? No! It is God who smiled upon them.”
Unfortunately, these words are common in our culture and can often creep into our faith unknowingly. Crosswalk contributor Katherine Britton shares how “Christianized karma” had at one point infiltrated her faith:
“I’d slipped into viewing karma through an Americanized lens, as a pseudo-Christian philosophy of reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7). Faithfulness and selfishness often have their rewards in this life, after all, and good deeds are often repaid with a smile and expression of gratitude if nothing else. Karma may not be the full picture, but it seemed like an innocuous truism to me.
…Lose a job? It’s a karmic effect – you must have cheated your employer or at least talked badly about him. Did you – heaven forbid – lose a child? Somehow, that’s your fault too, as the universe balances out some evil you’ve done. If such horrible things are somehow your fault, it would also make sense for people to pull away. That’s the bond of karma.”
As Britton notes, Christianity provides a better way of thinking about our lives, particularly when bad things happen:
“Christians rely on the promise that “all things work for the good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28). We fight to believe that, while “no discipline seems pleasant at the time… later on it produces a harvest of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). Like Job, we may never know the reason for our earthly suffering. But we know that, because of grace, suffering is not a quid-pro-quo retaliation for our sins. Even our suffering has been redeemed by God’s grace through Christ’s supreme act of love.”
In his book, The Karma of Jesus: Do We Really Reap What We Sow,” Mark Herringshaw shares how we can trade karma for grace:
Acknowledge that you owe a debt you can't pay. Since karma loads you up with responsibility for everything you cause, it saddles you with a huge debt you can't pay because all people cause more trouble than they can make up for in this fallen world.
Turn to the only one who's ever lived with perfect karma. Jesus is the only One who has ever lived a perfect human life. Only Jesus has the power to take your imperfect karma and forgive the debt you owe because of it.
Crosswalk contributor Debbie McDaniel writes this about replacing our idea of “luck” with solid trust in God’s sovereignty. “Our future is not dictated by chance encounters, wishful thinking, or how people and life circumstances may treat us,” she writes. “Our success in life is not determined by the roll of a dice or a lottery number. We are children of the King. He is Sovereign and He reigns Supreme. He gives favor, guidance, and blessings to those who seek after Him.”
As with swear words, Christians should be mindful of the impact that “luck,” “fate” and “karma” can have on our faith. Let’s strive to remember that God’s sovereign grace covers us in all moments of life.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.