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Steve Jobs and a Challenge to the Christian Faith

May 14, 201222 Comments

How can a Zen Buddhist Tech Genius challenge the faith of a Christian?  Yes, Steve Jobs the legendary founder of Apple, who revolutionized the computer, music, and movie experience for billions of people.  The same Steve Jobs who was a strict vegetarian known for extreme diets, intense focus, uncanny passion and an extreme eye for art.  The same Jobs who wrangled with the possibility of their being a God, who meditated, in his earlier years did acid, and even pilgrimaged to India.  The very same one who was not of the faith, presents a challenge to those of the faith.  This is no slight to him, nor Zen Buddhism or Eastern spirituality, but sometimes the mirror that’s lifted up before us is the life of someone else, to reflect back and point out something that we need to pay attention too.  In the life of Steve Jobs it’s faith in God.

Earlier this year I read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; intrigued by the man, and impressed with his life accomplishments I took up the hefty sized book and started to read.  The book was extremely well written, it made me want to continue reading and when I got to the end, it had accomplished its goal of conveying the life and pulse of Steve Jobs.  However I walked away, provoked like a young boy who had just been given the ultimate “triple dog dare”, or a woman who had just been told what she couldn’t do!

There were the two statements that did it:

“Job’s engagement with Eastern spirituality, and especially Zen Buddhism, was not just some passing fancy or youthful dabbling.  He embraced it with his typical intensity and it became deeply ingrained in his personality” pg 35

“I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis” Steve Jobs, pg 35

Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011. Print

Behind the education, and training, his Eastern Spirituality was central to him.  This was seen in his work ethic, intense focus and eye for design.  What he was able to accomplish was amazing, his work ethic was beyond comparison.  His ability to envision and think outside the box, was uncanny, and it appears his spirituality was an enormous thrust and source for his accomplishments.

Is there still a Christianity that makes men and women great?  Is there a walk of faith that leads people to do great things?  Yes, we can point to excellent pastors and teachers, but can we point to anyone who are excelling in greatness outside of the church’s four walls, because of their God given faith, and what God is in them?  Is there still an expectancy of greatness and excellence for Christians? These questions sum up the challenge, and the provoked feeling.

We have the assurance from God Himself, the very creator of this world, not only of redemption, but of adoption and His personal backing and support. (Rom 8:31)  All the things pertaining to life and godliness have been given to us (2 Pe 1:3), the word says that every promise of God is “yes and in Him amen”.   We are promised wisdom from God when and for whatever we need (Jas 1:5). We have the Holy Spirit of God who is the promised comforter, whose been guaranteed to lead us into all truth.  God guarantees us that He hears our prayers and promises to be the One who repays to all who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6)   We’ve been given and promised so much.

  “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” Luke 12:48

Everyone will have to seek God personally for the specific detailed steps to their path, but while specific callings vary, the promises of God, the very abundance of His blessings have been poured out upon all of His children.  Jobs stated that he began to realize that “an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis”. I wonder if as God’s people we have realized that leaning on God’s understanding instead of ours is more significant (Prov 3:5).  I believe there still exists a Christianity that makes people great, a faith that leads people to do extraordinary things, and a God that stands behind His word and who looks to perform it in the earth.

 

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  1. Shirley says:

    While I have not read Steve Jobs biography; I’ve heard much about how he was, and what he believed in. I think that Christians need to embrace our faith that strongly. We need to allow God to influence our every fiber of our self, so that whatever we do we do because we were influenced strongly by HIM. Jobs embraced his faith, and allowed it to overtake him so much so that it was seen throughout EVERYTHING he did. I thank you, Thomas for sharing how you were challenged, and then, without knowning it, or maybe even trying to, you have challenged those of us who call ourselves children of God; followers of Christ. Is there still a christianity out here that will challenge us? I think so. I hope so. Question is, will we take it?

    • Thomas Smith says:

      That’s very good, I’m glad you found the post to be encouraging of many things. That is the question to ask ourselves, will we take it? I pray by God’s divine grace in me, that I can respond and obediently allow Him to work out greatness in me. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Gail says:

    I enjoyed your post. Sometime it’s not looking at what can make Christian great but what God can do through us to show the power of God to others so that they will believe. I believe a time is coming that we will need each other and God will work through the humble so that He will begin to receive the glory He is due and not man. What Steve Jobs has done will pail in comparison with what God wants to do through His people. I am up for the challenge to see what God can do through those who submit all to Him.
    Blessings

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Thanks Gail,

      Like you I am up for the challenge as well! I just wanted to add, that what you stated is exactly the point. Do we understand what great of a power we are in contact with? Don’t get me wrong, its not about man receiving the glory, its about followers of Jesus realizing the God in them, to the glory of God who purposed it all. We stand in dark times morally, economically our country is failing, the church is in disarray, is there a solution to any of this? I pray that we don’t look too far into the future, that we’d look at the day’s we’re given now.

      God Bless, thanks for your thoughts they are treasured.

      • Gail says:

        I don’t know why you would say “we don’t look too far into the future”, today truly does have enough worries of its own. What is the solution? dark will get darker and light will get lighter. God will raise up those willing to stand up against the darkness. Gods will is none should parish. There are many distractions. Pray and read the Word. Be lead by the Spirit and give God His due Glory. “the church is in disarray”, we can just do what we can, pray and then leave it in His hands. Your blogs are great, that they can be an encouragement to others. Blessings to you,
        Gail

        • Thomas Smith says:

          Gail,

          The reason I said, “I pray we don’t look to far into the future that we’d look at the days we are given now”, is simply because today, and each day we wake up is the only day or moments we have to do what God asks, we can’t count on a future because its not promised.

          I guess there could be many distractions, but that would depend upon your focus and how you perceive your God given life.

          The main point of this post was for us to realize what God has already done in us, what He has already invested in each of His children. That’s why I reflected back on what Jesus said, to whom much is given much will be required. Additionally if we look through His parables on the kingdom, without over spiritualizing them, we see an expectancy on this life, reflecting His will.

          God Bless you, I really appreciate the dialogue!

  3. Hello Thomas,thanks for liking “In Memory of Bryan” over at 8kidsandabusiness.com I enjoyed your post. I believe that leaning on God’s understanding and not our own,like you wrote so well, allows us to do whatever He asks of us, whether hidden and ordinary, or Steve Job-esque. It has to be God’s will, not ours. Not easy, at least not for me, but then God knows that and He keeps blessing our efforts.

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Terry,

      No thanks needed for the “Like” that was a good post, and it reflects another facet of our walk with God. You are correct, it has to be His will, but what I find when I look in Genesis and see how God created this whole world is that His will entails a lot more than I consider at times.

      God bless you Terry

  4. Tahlitha says:

    Awesome message Thomas. I believe how you ended the post is exactly where we Christians should pick it up.

    …”a faith that leads people to do extraordinary things, and a God that stands behind His word and who looks to perform it in the earth.”

    God and His promises are what lead Christian men and women to do extraordinary things. Maybe we live in an age where doing amazing things has lost the spiritual teamwork and connection to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that it once had. We should continue to look at the spiritual measure given and poured into those who truly seek a humble walk in greatness.

    Thanks again.

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Tahlitha,

      “Maybe we live in an age where doing amazing things has lost the spiritual teamwork and connection to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that it once had.”

      This is an excellent point, there is a “teamwork” that exists that I believe forms the backing and foundation for works that God wants to accomplished in the earth, I think our part is to partner, surrender, get in line with that. Furthermore that’s why one of the greatest tragedies of “religion” is that it harbors God and leaves His people to doubt, and not depend on Him outside of the four walls of a church building.

      I really value your thoughts, thanks!

  5. first I applaud you for picking up that hefty size book… I have dodged picking it up for that very reason. This is in deed a thought provoking article and you did a great job getting your point across.

    I think in some ways the church let itself down when it taught that all we needed was the Holy Spirit’s power and not higher learning. I think we need both. When the church saw science as of the devil and academics and the pursuit of knowledge as frivolous, they took us one more step backward. When the church taught that achievements is just vanity, they killed in young minds the passion and desire to do great things. I think these are some reasons why in so many ways we have taken back seat to doing great things in our time… and in many ways why the world thinks we are slow and narrow minded, and frankly, they don’t take us seriously.
    Having said… God is not a respector of persons… He can used anyone, even though they may not serve him or recognize that they have been endowed with creative abilities. Steve might have thought he was just brilliant or influenced by eastern spirituality and work ethic, but we know that our God anointed him with the ability to create.
    Thanks for allowing me to share!

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Walter,

      Your thoughts are well informed I appreciate them.

      I sadly agree that part of the whole the church is in, is the whole it dug for itself. We do need both, the Holy Spirits power along with the raw knowledge. I think that the church saw that in education the world was trying to lead people astray, which part of that is right, but at the same time I don’t think the church raised the flag for true academics built of a knowledge of the God, soon enough or high enough.

      As you know, part of the reason God was able to use Moses to write the law books was because of his Egyptian education he was a learned man and God needed a learned man to write those books, when we look throughout the bible we see the same thing. Saul turned Paul is another great example. I would add that part of loving God is to love Him with our minds.

      Steve was definitely anointed by God and this is probably the greatest tragedy, to be endowed so greatly by God, but not to recognize Him as God, not to thank Him, but instead to applaud ourselves or give tribute to some false religion or a man made god.

      Thank you again for your informed comments

  6. Shannon says:

    I am whole-heartedly in as well. He is asking me to teach those deemed difficult to teach and love kids who are often seen as unlovable. God is so much greater than our perception and will move mountains as we are willing to walk where we are called.
    As usual, a great and thought-provoking post!
    Blessings!

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Shannon,

      I am glad to hear that and while I don’t know all of the challenges, I ask God’s grace to fully endow you for the task, and as you said “God will move mountains as we are willing to walk where we are called.”

      Thanks Shannon, I’ve also been enjoying the posts on Revelations in writing, thank you for your diligence.

  7. Mel says:

    “Is there still a Christianity that makes men and women great? Is there a walk of faith that leads people to do great things? Yes, we can point to excellent pastors and teachers, but can we point to anyone who are excelling in greatness outside of the church’s four walls, because of their God given faith, and what God is in them? Is there still an expectancy of greatness and excellence for Christians?”

    These questions puncture my heart.

    I’d venture to say that we aren’t given the promises of God (especially the power of the Holy Spirit living within us) to get ahead in the rat race or become super successful in worldly terms, like Steve Jobs or anyone else the world is exalting and praising. I don’t say this to diminish his accomplishments in the least since I myself have an iPhone that I really, really, really enjoy. 🙂

    Excelling in greatness outside of the church’s four walls? … I only want to greatly excel in knowing, worshipping, exalting and glorifying Jesus Christ. Also, I know Christians who excel in the place of work where God has called them because they are Christians.

    1 Corinthians 3 comes to mind. Only what remains when tried by fire is worth anything. Eternity should be the pressing goal and reality of every single day. The wise of this world are fools to God and He catches them in their craftiness so throw the pride away, the boasting away, right?

    Sorrow is the only emotion left when confronted with the life of Steve Jobs because it’s one that may (and I say may because I’m no judge of what relationship he may have ever had with Christ) have been lost for eternity and this is a horrible, horrible, horrible thing and it breaks my heart that He maybe (and I say maybe because, again, I don’t know anything about his personal life) never knew Christ. This is the saddest thing in the world and nothing he ever did, not his accomplishments or inventions or great life in the world, can reverse or repair that. It hurts even more to think that instead of mourning and feeling all the more urgency of standing in the gap for the lost and reaching the lost and loving the lost and making disciples of the lost that some might actually envy his life with lustful eyes and wish we had more excellent, popular Christians so that our “religion” can be more popular, right, fitting in, etc…1 Corinthians 3 again…we are infants…

    For me, it’s only somewhat “what God is in me” and a whole lot more who God is and who I am in Him.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. I tried to answer all the questions but got a little lost. Thank you so much for asking questions and, as always, thanks for another great, well-written post. You’re such a faithful (and faith-full) blogger! 🙂

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Mel,

      Your thoughts are valued, appreciated and welcomed. I say this all sincerity I really do appreciate the life of Steve Jobs, I really do. I enjoyed reading about his life, and maybe one day I’ll own an iphone or ipad, for right now I’ll admire those from afar.

      What’s reflected in that post started in the bible, not just reading Jobs’ biography. When you look at Daniel’s life, scripture said that he had an excellent spirit. Also he was chosen because he was learned in all branches of wisdom. What we see in Daniel’s life is that he totally relied on upon God and credited him for all of his wisdom, and he excelled so much that he was placed in a high position in Government.Dan 1:4, Dan 5:12 Not all are called to Gov’t work, but all are called to serve God in their vocation. I think Daniel’s life shows how God empowered his public life, making him great, but all the time he was humbled before God serving Him. This is the guy that was thrown into the lion’s den for praying. 🙂

      Also remember the life of Joseph, Moses, the Apostle Paul and even Jesus was very learned, even at the young age of 12.

      You are right, its not about having a popular Christianity. That’s not it at all, it’s not about some famous person being a christian trying to make the world like us or want to be a Christian, that’s wrong on many levels.

      Check out Eph 3:20

      Thanks Mel, I really do appreciate your comments, I am thankful for your time, and I look forward to more conversation. 🙂

  8. I’m all for striving for greatness and significance. As I read your thoughts – which I agree with wholeheartedly – I wonder how confusing this must be to Christians who are still unsure of the significance God has for them. We tell them that the Body is a unit and that each part is important; that not all of us can be an eye. Yet we also encourage striving for great things for God’s glory. Maybe a future post could be about how Christians can know if they’re striving for greatness in a godly way. It’s not always easy to tell, don’t you think, Thomas?

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Dave,

      Thank you for time in reading and commenting. If I am understanding your comment it appears that you are stating that being a body in unity is contradictory or in the way of “striving for great things for God’s glory.” I do not see the contradiction.

      “We tell them that the Body is a unit and that each part is important; that not all of us can be an eye.”
      In Paul’s example of using the body(1 cor 12) he was talking about giftings that the Holy Spirit gives believers for the edifying of the body. These giftings vary, they are not actual placements in the body of Christ. It’s not about people being head or going for the same position. Likewise the article was not either.

      We are to do all things to the glory of God.

      As far as the future post, it appears plausible. However, I don’t think its hard to tell. I think when we are honest with ourselves, we know our motives so we know why we’re doing things. When we are honest we know our fears so we know if we are trusting in the Lord or our money and ourselves. If we are Spirit led he convicts us, guides us and lead us into all truth, even the truth about ourselves. Additionally, the word of God is a discerner of the hearts of men.

      I’m not sure I have understood everything, but again, thank you for time… 🙂

  9. I can see how a contradiction could be inferred from what I wrote. I’ve worded my thoughts poorly. What I’m commenting on is the difficulty I’ve had in striving for greatness with absolute certainty that my motivation is God honoring. Even after starting well, the excitement that can come with achievement can throw us off track. Striving for greatness – even for God’s sake – can be very confusing for a Christian who has struggled with humility.

    Coincidentally, my blog post today sums this up for me. I taught on 1st Peter 5 yesterday. As often happens, I was preaching to myself as much as anybody else.

    Sorry for the confusion Thomas. Great post.

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Dave,

      I understand what you are saying now. I do agree that there are emotions and feelings that come in that complicate and make it hard, we can end up really being motivated by the wrong thing, while I haven’t been president or voted Mr. Missouri, I still stand by the thoughts I presented in the other comment.

      I will add this, that the main point of this post was really about what are we relying on as Christians? I picked Jobs as an example because of His success and because He stated in his book about how his Zen Buddhism was threaded into his personality etc. Is Christianity for us as Christians just how we make it to heaven or how we make through earth too? God has seemingly promised so much, should we back down from His promises? You don’t have to answer any of those questions, I stated them because they really get at the heart of what I was trying to express.

      God Bless you and thanks for the dialogue, I appreciate it.

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