Much has been said about Steve Jobs in the past weeks due to his passing, as well as the release of his biography. There is little denial that Steve Jobs had a significant impact on the world. Steve Jobs has impacted how we interact and relate to technology. With the Apple IIe, iPhone, iPod, and iPad he impacted our work, how we communicate, how we consume media, and how technology has become a ‘part of us’. Beyond the obvious Steve Jobs also impacted how we shop with iTunes, the App Store, and also the Apple Store. Less well known is that Steve Jobs revolutionized animation with his purchase of Pixar and ultimately their run of blockbusters starting with Toy Story. So lets give accolades where accolades are due. Steve Jobs impact on the world potentially borders on the impact of individuals such as Albert Einstein and Thomas Jefferson. What we tend to ignore though is Steve Jobs impact on the church and on ministry.
Steve Jobs was not a Christian – his biography makes it clear that he walked away from that path of faith at a young age. He was an individual seeking spiritual experiences. Despite his view of faith, Steve Jobs has changed and shaped the direction of church and ministry in extra-ordinary ways. The use of computers, cell phones, digital music, podcasting, visual communication, marketing, and worship have all been impacted by Steve Jobs.
I remember sitting in a theology class in Seminary and the professor passionately argued that God used Caesar to spread the gospel. The Pax Romana (or Roman Peace) that endured during the early church and the road ways created within the Roman Empire are just two examples of how God used Caesar as a tool to allow his gospel to be spread. Would Christianity have spread as quickly and broadly without those two basic things in place? We believe nothing can stop God’s work – but perhaps we don’t always notice what God uses to accomplish His work.
Through the advent of computers, cell phones, and the permeation of technology – much of which is due to the impact of Steve Jobs – the gospel has also found new ways to be spread and communicated. I could go on at length about each technology that Steve Jobs facilitated becoming a part of our culture impacting the Christian faith – however that would make for a lengthy blog, wouldn’t it? Is it sufficient to say as Christians that God works through all things for that which is His good? Is it sufficient to say that the things of the world are at times used by God for His purposes? Is it sufficient to say that Steve Jobs was an ordinary man who impacted the world in extra-ordinary ways, and that God in His grace, used Steve Jobs to also impact the church and faith to further God’s Kingdom? Are we comfortable as Christians, seeing God work through those that are not a part of ‘the faith’? Perhaps this is a good reminder that for each of us who claim faith in Jesus Christ – the work of God that began in us began long before faith became a part of who we are. Perhaps this is a good reminder that our faith is in something bigger than the structures and organizations we create in the name of Christ. Perhaps this is a good reminder, that quite simply, God is God most High and is Lord over all. Whether we talk about Steve Jobs or any other individual, event or organization – God is at work in the world. As God works how we live is changed, we are pushed forward, and we continue to see God changing and transforming the world around us.
I’m thankful for the creativity and ingenuity of Steve Jobs. The technology world has lost one of their ‘greats’ – but I’m even more grateful for the working of God, not by my limited expectations and limited knowledge, but by God working in and through all things according to His purposes.