We all know Steve Jobs for his innovation, the richest business in the world today, Apple Inc. Some of us also know him for his disbelief in God and many people assume that his lack of faith in God is typical of the Silicon Valley.
However, what we do not always hear or know about Steve Jobs is his resolve, how he came to the point of doubt, how “the Church” failed him, at least, as he thought and how he came to the conclusion that we are rather not living like Jesus.
In 2005, Steve Jobs gave a speech that sounded more like a homily, he said “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life”. He also revealed that from the age of 17, he had made up his mind to live every day as though it was his last.
Perhaps, it was this understanding that made Steve live more of his life providing solutions using technology. However, one of the choices he made was to walk away from Christianity. In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, he wrote concerning Steve Job’s parents saying they
“…are not fervent about their faith [but] wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. . . . “Does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?” [The pastor answered,] “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.”
After that encounter, Steve Jobs couldn’t cope with identifying with what he doesn’t understand and what could not be explained to him by supposed teachers of faith. He publicly announced that he doesn’t believe in God.
You may see nothing wrong at first with the Pastor’s answer, but this was a moment that wasn’t greatly used, a moment I would say was abused by the Pastor, a moment that Satan was given an opportunity.
Peter was almost in the same shoes with Steve Jobs but Jesus said to Peter
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:31-32 KJV
We all know the story of Peter, the devil wanted to use the situation at hand; the disappointment he was going to see, to bring him to that point of faithlessness. This was the same man that confessed by revelation that Jesus is the son of God but he was going to witness the son of God get arrested, he was going to witness him being killed on the cross and yet, the supposed mighty son of God will do nothing!
This can be likened to Steve Jobs’ experience. He grew up attending a Church and being made to believe that there is a God who oversees every activity on earth. Then, he began to witness wars and the killing of Children, he came across a report with the picture of starving Biafran children who were victims of Nigeria’s offensive war against the secessionist Biafra.
He needed answers, he wanted to know how God reacts to those problems, he wanted to understand what religion teaches about those suffering. He walked up to someone he believes to be closer to God and understands the heart of God but he was failed, the Pastor failed him, religion failed him and because he sees God through the lens of the Pastor’s teachings, he also thought that God failed him.
While Steve Jobs lived a life that characterised great leadership Spirit, innovation and values, he lacked the understanding of God, it would have sounded more like a scam to him when he hears rhetoric like “God is love” because he doesn’t understand God would be love and watch as wars and hate tear people apart. He was robbed of the privilege to be part of the community of believers.
While we can confidently say that Steve Jobs was a gift to us with his innovations which we use in our Churches, religion robbed him the gift of understanding God and the person of Jesus. If only he got an answer, his decisions would have been different. We don’t know, but he may have been a voice.
What do we know about Steve Jobs question?
Why does evil exist?
God created human with the freedom to make choices, the freedom to fight and be fought, the freedom to either live a life of love or that of hate. God didn’t create zombies, else, it would have been meaningless giving us the charge to dominate the world.
God designed man with limitless proficiencies and these abilities could be used for good or for bad. We know that man followed the wrong path, hence all the troubles in this world. These troubles are not God’s responsibility but ours. God is not in absolute control of the world, we are the ones who have been given the charge to subdue.
By disobedience, the perfect natural order of life on earth was altered. Suffering and sin entered. While the law says that the soul that sins shall die and be condemned, Jesus, who is God’s way of coming to earth in a physical form came on earth, identified with man and delivered man from condemnation.
At the fullness of time, we will receive salvation in its tangible form. Yes, we are saved, marked and sealed by the Holy Spirit if we believe. It requires nothing other than believing and trusting the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice. When the time comes, everyone whose trust is in God, including those who were long dead will be raised to life and we will have a tangible experience of God’s peace.
We have been promised a new earth, a place of peace, where God is our light, where God is all things for us and where we can never look back to see pains and sorrow. Yes, God is aware of the suffering of those little Biafran children who were suffering and he wishes man would decide to live devoid of hate.
Yes, God sees all of these things. But we know what his ultimate plans for us are. This earth is not our home, we are just passing through and it’s only a phase. While we may not truly understand everything, we are sure that God loves us, he hates to see us suffer and he cries when we cry. To some extent, when we let God take control, he does but the big question is, do we always let him?
Steve Jobs would have had a rethink if he got the answers he was looking for. While I can’t say what exactly his thoughts would be, somehow, the true gospel would have made a difference.
Perhaps if only this Pastor painstakingly decided to engage him in a heart to heart talk, maybe he wouldn’t have left.
Steve Jobs told Isaacson “The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” and he went further, “I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t. It’s the great mystery.”
Down in his heart, Steve Jobs couldn’t deny the reality of God, he couldn’t expressly say “I have searched all over but couldn’t find God.” He knows somehow that this house exists but he just wasn’t sure how it exists and the way that leads to this house because he once asked a question and was left with no answer.
Peter instructs us “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” – 1 Peter 3:15 NLT
There are so many Steve Jobs in our Churches, so many of them on Social Media, so many of them in our offices who are confused and needs answers. Are we going to continue criticising them for asking questions? Will we keep telling them that “they won’t understand?” Or will we just go ahead and explain to them?
It doesn’t just end in answering them, how prepared are you to actually offer hope, peace, love and the joy that Christ gives through the word?