I have spoken with many former church members and not-a-few former Christians.
Many of them have told me that they left the Church or left the Christian faith when they were younger – teenagers or early 20’s. When I ask them what it was that caused them to decide to leave, the same kind of story is told.
They had a question about God, they asked the pastor, and didn’t get the answer they were expecting (or wanted).
Steve Jobs was one such person. I never met or talked with Steve Jobs, but this story is documented in Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography.
The soon-to-be founder of Apple computers rejected Christianity because of one incident he had with a Lutheran pastor. Walter Isaacson tells the story:
“Even though they were not fervent about their [own] faith, Steve Job’s parents 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. ‘If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?’
The pastor answered, ‘Yes, God knows everything.’
Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, ‘Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?’
‘Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.’
Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.” [Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs, pp 14-15, Simon & Schuster, 2011]
There are many supposedly enlightened people whose rejection of religion rests on just such a flimsy foundation. They are still living as adults on the basis of a rejection of a kindergarten version of the Christian Faith which they probably misunderstood in the first place.
When I was 13, I had some specific ideas about the world, my place in this world, and how I should live my life.
As I am now 36 years removed from those ideas, I certainly don’t live by many – if any – of them.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV).
It is sad if a person continues to think about the Church, God, and life in general, based on something that happened when they were younger.
The Good News is that God still loves each one of us with an unconditional love. He is ready and willing to welcome us back to Himself.
God’s love for us is the same today as it was when we were children. Jesus Christ still forgives all our sins, the Holy Spirit still prompts repentance, and the Father is ready to welcome us into His strong and loving arms.
Come back to church. God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life. Join a Bible study.
And pray for those who, at one time, decided to leave. Pray that the Holy Spirit can use you to help them see that God still loves them and wants them to be a part of a fellowship of believers.