Monday, October 24, 2011


Over the last week I’ve watched two different documentaries on the life and legacy of Steve Jobs, including an interview with his biographer. To say the least, they’ve left my head swimming with numerous thoughts and ideas. Prone to bouts of anomie, Steve Jobs’ story paints him as being neither the happiest, nor the easiest of people to get along with. Adopted by a blue collar couple in northern California, his father drilled into him the need to be ‘perfect’ at everything he did, and as he grew older, this value made him extremely intolerant of imperfections and perceived weakness.

But for all his perceived weltschmerz, Steve Jobs was arguably the greatest visionary of our time. He single handedly reshaped our world with his vision of simple, elegant, and user friendly technology. Amazingly, Steve and Apple didn’t actually invent the personal computer or the mp3 player, but simply envisioned how they could improve upon existing technology. The ipod, the iphone, the ipad, the imac all changed our world and how we interface with technology and each other.

Imagine being the one responsible for restructuring and reshaping how recording companies do business. Imagine telling them what they are going to charge for their music and, indeed that they’re going to have to sell individual songs and not just whole albums! That’s what Steve Jobs did when he started the ipod and itunes revolution. But the appeal of the i-products is so much more than just functionality, as the aesthetic appeal has made it almost unacceptable not to own one. It would appear that your social status is enhanced simply because you own an i-product. From owning a mere 6% market share of personal computers, and 90 days away from filing for bankrupcy when he returned to Apple, Jobs turned the company into the second largest corporation in the world, second only to Exxon Mobil.

Apple’s i-product appeal has gone global and Jobs’ influence reaches far beyond the shores of the USA. At his death, people held vigils with their ipads burning eternal candles with flickering flames. But it’s not just the music, phone, and computer industries that have been revolutionized because of Steve Jobs’ vision; even the education industry has been revolutionized (especially in the area of teaching autistic children) because of the introduction of the ipad tablet in response to Kindle’s book reader. Where Kindle saw a revolutionary book reader, Steve Jobs saw a life changing tablet.

“How on earth do you propose to weave all that into i-gospel,” I hear you ask? Well, consider this: As Christ followers we’re invited to be part of a revolution that changes our world in every strata of society much like Jobs has done with his ‘i-product’ technology, except that what we offer has eternal value. Richard Stearns, in his book, The Hole In Our Gospel, puts it like this;

Didn’t Jesus always care about the whole person—one’s health, family, work, values, relationships, behavior toward others—and his or her soul? Jesus’ view of the gospel went beyond a bingo card transaction; it embraced a revolutionary new view of the world, an earth transformed by transformed people, His “disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19 NKJV), who would usher in the revolutionary kingdom of God. Those words from the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” were and are a clarion call to Jesus’ followers not just to proclaim the good news but to be the good news, here and now (Matt. 6:10). This gospel—the whole gospel—means much more than the personal salvation of individuals. It means a social revolution.

Remember that Jesus’ mission statement simply reads; “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) This means that the message of God’s love is designed simply, elegantly, and functionally, so that it can be embraced by all people, beginning a revolution that changes the status quo. The thing is though, you may be the only ‘i-gospel’ some people will ever see. So what do they see when they see you? A revolutionary 'product' like the iphone or the ipad that they long to possess, or an old MS DOS word processor that serves no useful purpose in a world of i-products? Hey, I’m just the messenger!!!


Avery Finger said...

Good take Joseph on i-gospel. I watched the documentaries on Steve Jobs as well. Jobs is such a relevant example of how God continues to work His plan, as the potter forming the clay, for the good of His creation.

So many christians want to discount the validity of Jobs accomplishments, especially as they pertain to the advancement of the gospel. That view puts great limits on the "potter" in my opinion.

Only eternity will reveal the tremendous impact that Jobs had on the proliferation of the gospel. I have no doubt however that he was born "for such a time as this...".
As Paul stated in Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son..."
We know because of certain advancements of the Roman empire in education, roads and communication, the birth of Christ was at the best possible time for God to work His plan of redemption for mankind. While Jobs is not the messiah, the results of his creative passions will no doubt open doors for all of us to do "i-gospel" more broadly and effectively.

Avery Finger

Joseph said...

Love this Avery! Thanks for being a part of the conversation.