Drawn by love, yet driven by fear

Adam Harbinson
Adam Harbinson

According to the Buddhist belief, Karma explains much of the inequality in the world. ‘Why is it’ asked a young man of the Buddha, ‘that we find amongst mankind the short-lived and long-lived, the healthy and the diseased, the ugly and beautiful, those lacking influence and the powerful, the poor and the rich, the low-born and the high-born, and the ignorant and the wise?’

And the Buddha answered, ‘In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve.’

He went on to explain that the cause or causes are not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a remote past birth. Apart from the idea of reincarnation, which flows from the Buddhist concept of Karma, many of us share that belief, except that these days we sometimes use the sociologist term: meritocracy; you get in life what you deserve. There is neither grace nor mercy, you reap whatsoever you sew.

I spoke a while ago about a friend of mine who lives in Alberta in Canada who debated with the great Dr Billy Graham on this very point. Billy Graham had said or written that when we all get to heaven all of our past deeds will be made public to all, like a great video screen in the sky for all to see - expect that is is likely to be a digitally mastered CD ROM or something similar.

Odd that, for the notable preacher appears to know the Bible to an extent that few of his contemporaries might ever achieve. He should have an understanding of the completeness, the unconditional nature of the love of God, he would also know that God has blotted from his memory banks all these things that might otherwise appear on the said screen.

The true Christian gospel is one of peace and freedom and yet so often as a little boy attending gospel services in a Mission Hall in North Belfast I often could not sleep because of the fear that had been struck into my young heart. Fear of being toasted forever and a day by a capricious God of fathomless love; fear of fiery demons with forked tails sticking burning spears into my backside. There seemed to be no attempt to woo the rebellious by painting word pictures of the Christ who strode the dusty paths of Galilee and Nazareth healing and blessing all and sundry, and who ‘gave his life as a ransom for all’.

Why did Billy Graham mislead, for that’s what he was attempting? He knows better. Could it be that having failed to draw weary souls into the Kingdom of love and light he was now trying to frighten them in?

I prefer to believe and tell who might listen of the truth of Paul’s gospel of grace and peace; there is no Karma in the sense that ‘...nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve’ and there certainly will not be a Premier Showing of the life and times of the likes of me, riveting as that might be, on the aforesaid digitally mastered CD ROM, for it was God who said, ‘I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

Don’t you love the simple truth, ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you!.