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Hard Questions

Posted by Pastor Jono on October 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM

When Steve Jobs, the founder of the Apple company, was 13 he asked a Lutheran pastor a hard question at a church meeting.  He inquired, "Does God know everything?"  The pastor's response was "Yes, God does indeed know everything."  At this, Steve pulled out a copy of Newsweek magazine which had a picture on the front cover of a starving child in an African famine.  Steve then asked, "Does God know about this?"  The pastor kindly replied, "I know you don't understand yet Steve, but yes, God does know about that."  Steve then loudly proclaimed he did not therefore believe in God if He knew about that situation and wouldn't help such a child.  He left the church and never went back.

 

Steve Jobs' sense of justice was offended at the thought that God had it in His power to help the starving child but seemingly wouldn't.  It seems to me also that all people have, at least from birth, an inherent sense of compassionate mercy towards the helpless (unfortunately we don't always live by that inborn sense).  That sense of justice and compassionate and merciful love for others are qualities we have inherited from the God in whose image we are made.  The Bible says that to do justice and judgment is more pleasing to God than to offer sacrifices (Proverbs 21:3).  And, according to Jesus, the greatest commandment in all the law is to not only love God but also to 'love thy neighbour'.  If God then desires for us to exhibit both justice and compassionate merciful love towards others then why does He not help such a starving child in Africa?  There are a few answers at least to that question but one major answer is found in Micah 6:8.

 

"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

 

Steve Jobs wanted to blame God and even deny His existence because he couldn't see God intervening in that famine.  He couldn't see that a photographer had found that child , captured his suffering in a stirring image, then a nationwide publication had published the image on it's front page thereby triggering the inbuilt sense of offended justice and merciful love in many people to help.  God has given the solution to problems such as a famine in Africa, the solution lies in us.  It is our God-given requirement to seek to do justly and show loving mercy to the suffering. It is a sad irony that when Steve Jobs returned to be CEO of Apple in 1997 one of the first things he did was to cancel the company's charitable giving program.  Meanwhile according to Barna research surveys the 38% of Americans who identify as being 'religious' give 66% of the nation's total charitable donations.  Committed Christians who identify as being 'born again' with a personal relationship with the Lord give about 3 times more than the other 'religious' respondents.  It seems the closer people get to God the more they realise their responsibility to share their wealth with those who suffer injustice and are in need of compassionate love. 

 

Sometimes an affluent western atheist may delight in asking a Christian those hard questions.  Perhaps the answers to the hard questions will be too hard for the atheist to swallow?

 

- Pastor Jono

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