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~ Christ and Karma ~

    “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come – on in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? ...Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever.’ Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant...he has a permanent priesthood. therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:11, 20-21, 24-25, NIV).

     “This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means ‘king of righteousness’; then also, ‘king of Salem’ means ‘king of peace.’ Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:1-3, NIV).

     King Melchizedek appears to be a mysterious person, having no ancestry, being the king of Salem (meaning both Jerusalem and peace) and a priest forever. He defeated all kings, presented Abraham with the elements of bread and wine, and was given a tithe from Abraham, as customarily given to the Church. Isn’t he a prefigure of Christ? Melchizedek does solve a “problem,” as it were. Under the Levitical law, no one could be both king and priest. One's position as king was determined by family lineage. Priests were anointed and ordained by God (as were prophets). David was a king, but not a priest. Christ had to be both, forever. Melchizedek was, as still is, both.

     Christ is a King through human lineage, of the house (family) of David. Thus He is the Son of Man, the Incarnate. Christ is also a King of the order of Melchizedek, without human ancestry or part of a lineage that would eventually die out. Thus He is the Son of God, and a Priest forever.

     As High Priest, Christ administers His priesthood in the Holy of Holies. He is the new ark of the (new) covenant, and so “sits at the right hand of the Father,” so to speak. Upon His death, the heavy curtain separating the Holy of Holies from us was literally torn in half, from the top down, by the hand of God. We are thus able to be “seated with Him,” right now, while still in these earthly bodies.

     Most of us know about the concept of “karma” from the Hindu tradition. Galatians 6:7 defines that principle: “What you sow, you’ll reap.” No matter how refined our corrupted and imperfect natures become, the harvest will always fall quite short of perfection. So we are stuck, punished by our sins rather than for them. “The wages [payment] of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, NIV).

     Mathematically, logically, metaphysically, or philosophically, it can be concluded we cannot refine ourselves into perfection through repeated reincarnations or disciplines. Neither do we need to experience a hundred or thousand more lifetimes to be free to enter perfection.

     Let us take the liberty of equating “karma” with “sin,” setting aside for now the notion of “good karma” or results from right actions, other than to observe such good works are wedded to faith, as James explained in his letter, although not redemptive.  The need for a savior from the karmic cycle trap is evident. We can get a glimpse of the horrific burden Christ took upon Himself by “becoming sin,” by absorbing into Himself the karmic load of all people of all time...

     Many people suffered the Roman execution method of crucifixion. Peter suffered it upside down. Most agonized for days on the crosses, designed to be an excruciating, slow death by suffocation and pulmonary/cardiac failure due to fluid accumulation. Christ suffered only three hours on the cross. Governor Pilate was surprised He had died so quickly. He ordered the legs of the other two executions that afternoon to be broken to hasten their death. With broken legs they couldn’t push themselves up against the foot blocks to get a breath.

     Christ was a powerful and courageous person, physically and spiritually. We can be certain from the record He was not sweating blood over any fear of physical suffering. The “cup” He asked the Father to find another way of emptying wasn’t full of physical pain. Collect all the suffering you experienced, the sufferings of those you know and know about, mix in the pain due to sin (and all suffering is due to sin) of all people today on the earth, add all the sufferings of people of all time, condense it into a cup. Label that cup, “Hazardous toxins due to sin, the corrupt harvest of corrupt seeds, to be disposed only into a pure, untainted depository for neutralization.” Now we have a tiny sense of what Christ volunteered to drink to free us of it. A loving sacrifice beyond comprehension...Capable of only the Almighty Himself.

     Consider the impossible task of saving ourselves from the karmic cycle or principle, “You reap what you sow,” through thousands of reincarnations or attempts of self-redemption, or through trying to balance the scales in favor of our definitions of righteousness or “good works,” which are, after all, but “filthy rags” in the sight of God.
The idea that we can attain the beatific vision and perfection with our own will and striving is pride entering through the back door. At the front door, pride was the demise of the great angel of light, Lucifer. Those who allow such pride to enter in either door are doomed to his fate.

     I wondered about what would happen to the divine economy of things if Lucifer would find it within himself to admit his sin. It may not be unreasonable to believe that he would garner God’s forgiveness and restoration in profound, sincere and utter repentance. (This also means overlooking, for now, the theology that Christ's redemption is on behalf of humankind, not the angelic beings, who were never human.) Of course, it’s obvious he hasn’t gone that way. In the timeless perspective of God, the book of Revelation would have been differently given, to accommodate the different end resulting from Satan’s repentance. But the book of Revelation is not a book of Determination of what Lucifer will do. Consequently, it is a prophetic book about what God will do in response to evil’s unrepentance and persistence.

     Can we fault Satan without bringing the judgment upon ourselves? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” His pride overwhelms his judgment. Who among us is not also guilty of that? Regarding perfection, it isn’t a matter of degree. Miss scoring the winning shot by an inch or ten feet, it doesn’t matter...you missed and lost the entire game.

     Christ always prayed, notably during His intense suffering prior to His redemptive death and resurrection, “Your [Father’s] will be done.” The alternative is, “Father, my will be done.” Christ, the Word (Logos) through Whom all things came into being and through Whom all things are restored to the perfection that was in the beginning, prayed, “Not my will (as a human incarnation), but yours (as divinity) be done.” If the will of us humans continue to be done, we will remain in deep trouble. It is futile to hope to achieve world peace when we can’t achieve a perfect peace within our own bodies and souls. How can we not want God’s will, that of the Supreme Love and Wisdom, to govern us in our total surrender? Perhaps it has something to do with pride.

     If we don’t say, in full heartedness, “Your will be done,” we say, in foolhardiness, “My will be done.” That prayer will be granted, to our destruction. How can we flawed humans vacillate between God’s will and our own? How can we even entertain this for a moment? Pride and self-interest.

     Our lives truly depend on our High Priest and King, the Christ without whose sacrifice and assumption of our karmic load, so to speak, leave us eternally doomed. Perfect Love redeems us. So “we love Him because He first loved us.”

     Christ described how many will lament, “Lord, didn’t we do all these great things in your name?” and how He will respond, “That didn’t matter. Leave me. I never knew you" (Matthew 25:41). But, in contrast, what was His response to the self-declaring guilty criminal dying next to Jesus asking Him to just “remember me”? “Today, you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).

     These concepts may be hard to understand. But understanding isn’t redemptive. Experiencing the love and resurrection, although beyond understanding, is to enter trustingly into profound mystery and everlasting life and love.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services

Weekly Reflections © July 26, 2003
Responses are welcome at: Reflections@prayergear.com

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