As no doubt you’ve heard by now, Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away yesterday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Like many others, I am reflecting on the man’s influence on my own life, as I type this post on my iPad, with my iPhone in my pocket.
The way we creatives do our work has been largely enabled by Mr. Jobs. I record my music and edit our shows with Apple software running on Apple computers. I have my devotions every morning with my trusty ESV Study Bible on my iPad. My kids and I play “Words with Friends” back and forth on our iPhones throughout the day. I touch the objects he created seemingly hundreds of times a day. Even if you don’t use Apple products, you undoubtedly use products that were INSPIRED by Apple products. Without the iPhone there would be no Android phones. Without the Mac there would be no Windows. It’s pretty easy to argue that Steve Jobs directly affected how we do our work and live our lives more than any other person since Thomas Edison. (That whole “electricity” thing was, perhaps, the iPod of it’s day.)
But here’s something most news sources won’t even notice that affects us in ministry even more. Millions of people around the world this year will put a Bible in their pocket – for free – because of Steve. Get a new phone, go to the app store, download the free Bible of your choice. No cost to you – no cost to the companies providing the Bible apps. The technical costs are covered by Apple.
As millions more pickup smart phones around the world, more and more of the world will have access to Bibles. Commentaries. Study guides. Even whole Bible courses loaded onto iTunes U by Christian colleges around the world, all made available for free. To anyone. Anywhere.
One could argue that Steve Jobs – a self-described Zen Buddhist – may have inadvertently created the most transformative new means of distributing the Gospel since the Roman road system.
If only he had spent a little more time traveling that road himself.