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The Passing of Steve Jobs: A Christian Perspective

10/06/11

The Passing of Steve Jobs: A Christian Perspective

 

The passing of Steve Jobs is indeed news in light of the modern construct of the daily news feed. As I sit and type this blog on an Apple product, I know that his work directly affects me, and his influence in the technologies of our life cannot be underestimated.

I am not 100% sure how to approach his death. In all honesty, if the news of his passing had just been a blip on the screen in the public eye, I probably would have not given it much thought. But there seems to be a deluge of people from news organizations to everyday Facebook users eulogizing and lamenting the loss of Jobs. Something about it makes me uncomfortable. I have thought on the matter and really wanted to have an answer by the time I sat down to write. Alas, I do not have a sure lock on how to approach his death. I can, however, think aloud (in this case think in type) and open up a conversation with you. So here goes…

It is no secret that Apple has been driven by the personality of Steve Jobs. He made Apple. Even though it was not a singlehanded effort, he proved to be the linchpin of their success. That made me curious about him. What caused him to rise above all the others to accomplish as much as he has? Information about Jobs is not scarce. Many books and bios have been written including a book called Inside Steve’s Brain.

In my very brief look at his life, I learned that some who worked for him knew him as an egomaniac and a frightening man. Some days were good, but other days employees were fired on the spot within the first few minutes of meeting the man. This was never denied by Jobs. With my personality type, I would have avoided him like the plague if I worked for his company. So do I view his death in light of his running Apple in such a manner? I could say he was not a good man. His behavior at times proved that, so we should not honor him. I don’t think, however, that is what makes me uncomfortable with the overwhelming response to his passing. He was born a sinful man just as I. To take an aspect of his fallen human nature that is manifested in his personality and say he should be completely disregarded because of that would be hypocritical on my part. Certainly if that attitude was used to gauge any of our lives, the focus could always be on the mounds of evidence that points to the fact that none of us are good. In fact, these things make me feel more empathetic toward Jobs. He needed exactly what I need: a Savior.

Apparently Jobs never saw Christ as his savior. He embraced Buddhism throughout most of his life as a result of a spiritual journey he took to India. I can say that without a doubt Buddhism is an incorrect way of approaching life and its problems. The overall problem of mankind is our broken relationship to God, and Jesus Christ is the one whom God sent to bring us to Himself. This is the key and crux of human existence. If Jobs remained a Buddhist, he was deceived. It is not his Buddhism that gives me pause at the news of his death, however.

Jobs, unlike his counterpart Bill Gates, was not a philanthropist. He apparently did not believe that the wealth he gained should be used to help others. Gates, as of 2007, had given more than $28 billion to charities. When Jobs returned to the helm of Apple, he made sure to stop all philanthropic activities. So many see him as a wealth hoarder. He is the pinnacle of corporate greed to some. He doesn’t see his wealth as a gift to be used not only for himself but for others who are less fortunate. This, however, does not make me feel uneasy either. He made his money, and he earned his success. He can do with it as he pleases. It would only be legalism to say he has to do certain things with his money and please the public with his giving. It is his money, his business.

But in the question of his charitable giving, I believe I stumbled across the reason why I feel so uncomfortable at the over-eulogizing of Steve Jobs. On September 2, Dan Pallotta of the Harvard Business Review wrote an article entitled Steve Jobs, World’s Greatest Philanthropist. In the article, Pallotta paints Jobs as a man of such single focus and purpose, that to be a philanthropist in any measure would derail the work he was meant to do. So, in Pallotta’s estimation, Jobs did more for humanity by sticking with innovation on the technological front than he could have ever done by donating millions to children’s hospitals or AIDS research.

In just one example, Pallotta says that without Jobs “We'd still be waiting for a cell phone on which we could actually read e-mail and surf the web. ‘We’ includes students, doctors, nurses, aid workers, charity leaders, social workers, and so on. It helps the blind read text and identify currency. It helps physicians improve their performance and surgeons improve their practice. It even helps charities raise money.” I agree with Pallotta. I am using Jobs inspired technology right now. What Apple produces becomes tools in our hands to spread the Gospel of Christ.

There is something a little more sinister, I believe, than just seeing Jobs as a man who created great tools. And in Pallotta’s article, I think I found what causes me to feel uneasy with how he is being talked about upon his passing.

I believe it boils down to humanism. In short, humanism is a philosophy that finds solutions to life’s problems in human reason and the expansion of human knowledge. Everything is done for the advancement and betterment of humankind. This is how many are approaching Jobs. He is uplifted, praised, and remembered fondly because of his advancement of the human cause. It is seen that we are better off today than before Jobs came along. On one hand, you could say that is true. When given thought, however, do we really know if we are better off? Can that be said in absolute certainty and in light of God’s redemptive plan? I am thankful for the tools God allows me to use that originated in Jobs’ brain and are now in my hands. But I cannot say that the advancement of human achievement in this realm has made us wholly better off.

There will come a day when iMacs, iPads, and iPhones will not exist nor be needed. These things will come to an end. So-called human progress will cease. God has allowed us to possess in a smaller measure His attribute of creativity. He allows us to invent and grow and add tools to our toolbox in our subduing the earth. More often than not, however, these are not seen as gifts from the Almighty. We take them and run with them in order to make of life what we want. We do not give glory to the Creator, but take what He placed within us and see ourselves as self-sufficient and able to forge our own path toward fulfillment. Every gift of creation and innovation harbored by Steve Jobs was there only because of the One who created him. God gave Jobs his ability, but it seems that Steve Jobs did not acknowledge the One true God as the source and reason for what he did. In his passing, he is being praised for the advancement of human kind without acknowledgement of God. This is what bothers me. We do not know or see completely how Jobs fits in to the ultimate plan of our sovereign God. Yet many, with great enthusiasm, praise Jobs solely for his contribution to the betterment of mankind as if that was the ultimate aim for anyone.

Romans 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

 

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6 comments

Comment from: Jennifer [Visitor]
JenniferI think what you've written is disingenuous in many places. If one were to say "I COULD say Bob is a jerk, but I won't," that person actually really did just call Bob a jerk, but somehow feels he has recused himself from the guilt or responsibility of actually having just done so. I think the middle of your article demonstrates the same behavior. If it was not Jobs' management style, religion, or lack of philanthropy that bothered you, why bring them up? It's as if you wanted readers to know these less than shining things about his character, but don't want to claim that they upset you. Either they do, and you ought honestly state so, or they're irrelevant to your point about glorifying man instead of the gospel.
10/08/11 @ 00:34
Comment from: RJL [Visitor]
RJLLet's not forget how lightly Mr. Jobs respected the whole issue of his Creator.
In 1976,on the release of their Apple 1,with tape drive memory interface. This device had a list price of $666.66. Also the insignia trademark for the corporation, is the bitten apple.(from the tree of knowledge?)
Areas that have been taken to lightly on the journey of his life. As far as I can see, He sealed his fate with the beginning of Apple Day One.
10/08/11 @ 09:21
Comment from: Kavita Singh [Visitor]
Kavita SinghAs a practicing Christian, I confirm that from what I read in God's word to me, it matters not what I achieve in terms of "worldly accolades" or even great inventions. What matters only will be my personal choice to accept the salvation that Jesus Christ, God's only Son offers and a life lived seeking God's will and purpose in my life. As a professional trainer I share this with my participants every time I get a chance - I certainly believe in Heaven and Hell, and I also believe that eventually we will get to face the judgement day. Then there will be only 2 things that we will find that we carried to Heaven 1. Our own reputation (good, bad or otherwise) and 2. Our relationships. Lets live lives that focus on this truth, so that we get to spend eternity without regret or discomfort with those who we get to live with forever. I did share with a young niece - Steve rejected Jesus Christ (what a sad choice!). Buddha was a mere mortal (great philosopher too) and he (Buddha)does not offer a solution to eternity with Almighty God
10/09/11 @ 07:25
Comment from: Gerrit Grobler [Visitor]
Gerrit GroblerDear JT Crawford. Thank you for your article on Steve Jobs. This is the first one I read that has an eternal perspective. Mr Jobs have given us beautiful tools to work with, but we can survive without them. I am typing on my Blackberry, and I have a PC with Windows 7. I do however have an iPod, though I do wish I had more iGadgets. Beautiful though Apple's products are, they can not be the focus of our lives, but tools to enhance it. I have a very real very personal daily experience of the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ. If I have to choose between the presence of God I have, and success, or beautiful computers the choice woudn't be very hard. These things have become people's salvation. That is why the creator of the things was honoured by all. I was very sad when I heard that Steve Jobs was a buddhist. I wish I could help him. People don't really care about him having been unsaved, because humanism teaches us its okay to have any religion we choose. Its scary how far humanism has washed our thinking. What does it profit us if we gain the whole world, but loose our souls? The world should rather lament Steve's death because he wasn't saved, and see it as a wake-up call.
10/10/11 @ 00:41
Comment from: TJ [Visitor] Email
TJI wanted to write about one more thing that is weighing heavy on my heart this morning. it’s the death of someone who I looked up to in an earthly sense for his accomplishments in this life. The more I think about the passing of Steve Jobs the more I think about the empire he built the empire we today call Apple. It’s interesting but I never took the time to think about the Apple logo it is an apple with a bite taken out of it. I don’t know if it has any subliminal message behind it that relates to the fall of man in the book of Genesis or not I do know that all apple products are tempting. I know this because I own an Iphone4 and I want an Iphone4s and a Mac and an IPod lol. Anyhow you can spend your whole life building something. You can baby it, and nurture it, and devote all you have to it. In the end the building up of anything is, as Solomon says vanity, if it’s no done for Gods legacy. Steve Jobs left behind so much for us as Christians to think about. For instance money does not guarantee life only God dose. No matter how rich or what your status is “the heart of the king is in the hands of the Lord” and that includes his physical life as well. This may be a hard pill to swallow, especially for someone who has lost a loved one. But for a Christian it simply is what it is. God is in control of all things. Another thing, Steve spent a vast majority of his life competing to be the best, striving for perfection. Just asks those who worked close to him they would say the same. By the age of 24 he was worth over 100 million dollars and he admits he got there by other people’s ideas that he stole and made better. There is no doubt that he was an innovator and one of the best. Today I have read so much about what if this was not invented, or if we had no “Apple”. I have a slight feeling that God might just have been able to manage without Steve Jobs or Apple. After all who do you think set things in motion for Steve to innovate the way he did? God gives us all Good things including our minds and talents we have. I am an apple man I love the products. I just want to learn from the passing of Steve jobs a great man a person who had a deep impact in our culture and who has left behind and will continue to leave behind a legacy. I want to learn something more than if you work hard and put your all into it you can be successful. I want to be a part of a generation of Christians that leaves a legacy of teaching our children about the difference between right and wrong good and evil and the everlasting seriousness of sin and its consequences that deceive and devastate. Leaving this world without knowing your Creator and giving Him the honor seems pointless even if we feel fulfilled as long as we accomplished some milestones. Friends the world tries so very hard to erase any sense of obligation or conviction that we have a disposition to rebel against God and to create on our own, our own legacy of self gratification and sense of satisfaction. Just look to the attitude of the early examples in the bible Adam and Eve, Cain, the tower of babble the list can go on and on. Oh Lord may I spend my time and energy, hard work ,and ambition serving man kind in such a way that my mark leaves no doubt in the mind of my children and those people who know me, Who God is and what he has done to transform me into a new man.

A “Legacy” that ends without acknowledging and knowing personally the very God who has made that legacy possible and who you are about to meet, is no legacy at all. The conclusion put best not in my own words but in the words of scripture.

 

“The end of the matter when all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of a man. For God will bring every deed into judgment with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14   
10/16/11 @ 06:28
Comment from: Georgi [Visitor]
GeorgiYour thought is very right. I was thinking myself of writting article on the same manner. One matter which bothers me and I believe is very much related with Christianity is the apple logo "a bited apple" obviosuly for me this looks like a reference for the same apple which was biten in the garden of Eden through which the sin entered this world. Also the unethical behaviour of Jobs with regular people is obviously against Christian moral and I think we should even choose not to use apple's products just because of this single fact.

02/22/12 @ 17:29
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