Steve Jobs and Christian Mission

It wasn't so much what Steve Jobs invented. If you think about it, Steve Jobs wasn't a great inventor at all. He didn't design the first smartphone. He wasn't the first to unveil a tablet computer or a digital music player. He just figured out a way to make them simple, desirable, and easily shared. No, Steve Jobs was not a great inventor. He was a great communicator.

Apple itself is living proof that the ones who change the world and influence lives aren't the ones who create great things, but the ones who can get people to understand and embrace great things. After all, what good is a great invention if you can't get people to nod their heads and understand why they need it? By relentlessly pursuing cleanness in design and protecting the core functionality of a product--allowing only that which was essential to it's full enjoyment--Jobs and Apple took incredibly complex technology and made it something both stay-at-home moms and Battlestar Galactica loving tech geeks could appreciate and explain.

For followers of Jesus this offers us an important reminder. We're not the game of inventing either. The faith is the faith. The Biblical, historic, creedal confession of who Jesus Christ is, and the narrative of what the Father is doing, through Him, to rescue and restore this world are set. To change this truth or innovate on this truth is to reject it by offering something altogether different. We're not here to re-make Jesus into a social activist who fights against corporate greed or a suburban buddha who lets you rub his belly to fix your marriage and fill your bank account. No, the burden of invention belongs to Christ himself and the work is over.

Instead our task is to do as followers of Christ what Jobs did for technology. Our task is to help those around us understand him and embrace him. Our job is to so throughly grasp the greatness of Christ ourselves that we can present it in a way that is simple, desirable, and easily shared for others. It requires us to do the hard work of removing any obstacles, peeling away what's cultural or personal and not essential to the core message of "salvation by grace through faith." And hopefully, in the end, we'll be able to talk about Jesus in such a way, live out our faith in such a way, that everyone from our kids at home to our friend at work ask about it, appreciate it and desire it. Then, rather than take them to the Apple Store we take them to church. We take them to Jesus. That's our job.

We are not inventors. We are communicators. And what we learned from Jobs is that those who can communicate are the ones who change the world.

BlogMatthew PopovitsComment