Who Was Steve Jobs? A Biblical Reflection
To appreciate an iPod, you’ve got to know its creator. The same is true of the iPod’s creator, Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs came into this world in 1955 as an image of the one true God (Genesis 1:26-27). As God’s image, Steve, like the rest of us, was a visible replica and representative of his Creator. He was charged with the task of using his God-given creative ability to use the earth’s resources and build human technologies that would benefit humanity and glorify his Creator (Gen 1:26, 28; Psalm 8). I’m typing this post on my Mac Pro with my iPad and iPhone nearby. So I’ll unhesitatingly join the chorus of voices praising Jobs for his vision, innovation, and huge contribution to the world of modern technologies.1
In many respects, Steve Jobs is an inspiration to me, and I’m grateful for the many ways in which my life and ministry has benefited from his labors. But did Steve Jobs use his creativity and innovative technology to bring glory to his Creator? Was he trying to make a name for his self? Or was he trying to use his accomplishments to bring fame to the only true God?
I can’t answer the question definitively and ultimately. That’s God’s role.2 I can say that Steve, like the rest of us, was born a sinner alienated from his Creator (Psalm 51:4). Like the rest of us, Steve fell “short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), meaning that the very best of his intentions and accomplishments failed at some level to give ultimate praise to the Creator.
Yet I also know that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and to offer his life as a substitute in the place of sinners like Steve and you and me in order that whoever turns from his sin and believes in him might have forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life (John 3:16). If Steve turned from his sin to Christ in saving faith, we can hope to see him in heaven. If not, we should lament that loss of such a gifted human being who had great potential to bring God glory but who, like the builders of the City of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), preferred to seek a name for himself.3
Steve Jobs was in many respects a great man. But he was also a sinner, like you and me. Today, he appeared before his Maker to give an account. Tomorrow, you and I will have to do the same. Sheer creative genius and a myriad of accomplishments will not in themselves matter then. What will matter is whether we lived and labored for the glory and enjoyment of our Creator.
Is that what you’re living for? If not, you still have the opportunity to change that. Acknowledge your sin, selfishness, and rebellion (Luke 18:10-14; Romans 3:10-20). Turn to Jesus Christ as the all-sufficient Savior from sin (Romans 10:9-10). Use your remaining years of life and labor to bring honor to God through your vocation and to advance his agenda.
If you’ll do that, God will give you a name–a legacy–more significant and lasting than that of “Steve Jobs.” And your life will begin to make sense because it won’t be viewed and lived in isolation from its Creator. Rather, you’ll be progressively transformed into a visible replica and representative of your Creator that accurately reflects his glory and goodness.
- For a video tribute to Steve Jobs and his accomplishments, click here. [↩]
- Of course, I’m aware that Steve was apparently married by a Buddhist monk and expressed some affinity toward the Buddhist religion. If this is where he placed his hope, then he trusted a false gospel. Jesus said of himself that he was “the way, the truth, and the life; no one could come to the Father except through him” (John 14:6). I hope Steve came to see the emptiness and futility of the Buddhist “gospel” in his last days and turned to Christ, the only true Savior from sin (Acts 4:12). [↩]
- For some excellent thoughts on Steve Jobs’ self-expressed ambition and hope articulated in his Sanford University address, see Andre Couch’s The Gospel According to Steve Jobs (published January 21, 2011). [↩]