Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Last Sunday we held the New Life Celebration.
It is a uniquely Christian event.
It is not karmatic, because karma holds captive the decisions of the past into the painful perpetuity of the future. Redemption is not possible in this philosophy, only recompense. You are trapped in striving to appease the burdens of yesterday through your efforts in solving the issues of the now. You are also grieved by any offense of the immediate as you ponder the unsolvable mystery of how such errors may influence your tomorrow. It is a view of life rooted in the perplexity of what one did to deserve any perceived good, and the dread of what one might avoid to receive any perceived harm. It keeps captive the human heart in a cycle of what one has without cause and what one might lose without reason. It is a marriage to anxiety until death parts the worrier from their worry.
The gospel is not karmatic but causal, linear – it proclaims good news that liberty from one’s former self is now possible because it is relevant who Jesus presently is rather than who you previously were. Karma is the curse of a deserved destiny that we err in singing over those we believe are receiving their due while we presume to be superior to receiving ours. Lest we think ourselves above the influence of this idea, how many times do we suggest its use as controlling the universe? “It’s karma” we say when someone cuts us off in traffic and gets into an accident later. “Payback happens” we curse when we watch our children struggle to raise their own, somehow believing that recalling the unresolved memories of having our hardship ignored is worthy of being passed down to those suffering now, even though such attitudes and isolation so angered and hurt us we still are not healed from it. This is not the gospel. We do not hold a next life celebration, but a new life one. And it is here, now, today – one has neither the option nor the power to reschedule redemption. The spiritual world will not be paused. With redemption we may refuse its acceptance but cannot deny its existence.
Of course the world speaks of karma – it is clutching at an explanation for “judge not, lest you be judged,” in which our judgement of others positions our own lives away from grace, an unbreakable spiritual law set by God in which the attitudes we have concerning others will open portals of pain in our own lives. The world sees clearly this spiritual phenomenon but – lacking language to describe it – defines it as an ethereal concept. What God has pronounced as certain we attempt to describe as religious and therefore control as our own. Yet we know that judgement for all of its continuous reciprocation can be broken by a single moment of mercy, for this too is part of God’s spiritual reality manifested fully at the cross and replicated often by His followers. Thus it is a new life celebration because we are people of the light who offer in the power of Jesus a gospel not of continuation but re-creation. You do not have to be who you were because He will not change who He is. Our freedom to change is enabled exclusively because it is unnecessary for Him to do so.
The gospel proclaims that every person has both the opportunity and the agency – whoever shall believe – to reach heaven because heaven has already reached them. We have been loved and so can love. Humans are responsive, God is generative. This is good news because although we may have emotional wounds which have taught us lies about ourselves, others and God, although we may have experiences of this dark world which cloud our experiences of light, although we have intentional sins and awful errors which seem to have chased our lives, the truth is that what was before no longer has power to bind what is here already. Google is full of answers to the search “how to change karma.” But that is the world’s baptism – trying to change outcomes by manipulating means, a baptism which is finished when you go under until the bubbles stop. But that is not our baptism. Submerged in the work of the Son, raised by the power of the Spirit into the love of the Father we embrace God’s desire not to annihilate us but renew us.
In this age of chaos the world searches for answers and resolutions and solutions and agents of blame and people to praise, for alliances of who seems most right now and least lovely later, for idols of men to alter what the evil of men has made. But we have not so learned Christ. He has been given the Name. And so we may forget our own. We may enter into the release of what happened to us, or from us, because of what was done for us.
May we undergo our baptism daily into this life which is truly new, not because God has given us what we deserved, but what He desired.