Opportunity to Transform
On October 5, Steve Jobs died. The co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. had been struggling with the effects of pancreatic cancer for the past eight years. He was only 56 years old, but is widely recognized as someone who transformed the world several times in his relatively short life.
Jobs and partner Steve Wozniak established the Apple computer company in 1976 and released the Apple II personal computer (PC) the following year. Unlike previous computers, which were created for business and hobbyists, the Apple II was meant for everyone. It featured color graphics, and users could load programs and save data using audio cassettes. With the introduction of the Disk II floppy drive in 1978, families who years earlier never would have considered having a computer in their homes were using the new machines to type documents, keep track of their finances, and play games. It was the dawn of the personal-computing era.
Long after the introduction of the Apple II, Jobs continued to innovate. In 1984 Jobs and Apple introduced the Macintosh, the first successful computer to use a mouse and a graphical user interface (clicking on images instead of typing commands). After leaving Apple in the late 1980’s, Jobs became involved in Pixar Animation Studios. In 1995 Pixar released Toy Story, the first-ever computeranimated full-length movie, changing forever the way such films are produced.
Jobs returned to Apple in the late 1990’s and, before Christmas 2001, introduced the iPod and iTunes. Soon it became common for people to use computers to purchase songs, maintain their music libraries, and put their music on portable devices. Apple’s iPhone, which came out in 2007, wasn’t the first smart phone, but it was the first phone to use multitouch technology and paved the way for a new crop of phones, music players, and tablet computers. Because these innovations have become commonplace so quickly, it seems unbelievable that the iPad was introduced only last year. Since then Apple has sold an estimated 25 million tablets. Steve Jobs said that the iPad marked the beginning of a post-PC era. If that holds true, Jobs will have birthed both an era and the era that replaced it.
Without question Steve Jobs’ vision and innovation transformed the world and the way we do things. Transformation is an important concept in Christianity. We believe that God, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit, transforms our world and makes all things new. Throughout the Gospels, peoples’ lives were transformed by encounters with Jesus. Take, for example, the woman who had suffered a hemorrhage for twelve years (see Mark 5:25-34). Or consider the criminal who was crucified next to Jesus. Though the man was in his final hours, his interaction with Jesus changed him and had an eternal impact (see Luke 23:39-43).
On his final evening with his disciples, Jesus rose from the table and washed the feet of his dinner guests. In a world where most people traveled from place to place by walking and many went barefoot, washing feet was not a pleasant task. It was a job often reserved for servants. Jesus’ disciples must have been confused when their master and teacher washed their feet. When Jesus finished, he said, “I have given you an example: just as I have done, you also must do” (John 13:15).
Some people may think that to make a difference in the world one needs to be a Steve Jobs-like innovator or to travel the world doing mission work. But all of us are capable of changing the world by following Jesus’ commands to love and serve our neighbor. Opportunities to do so surround us every day. The question is whether we take advantage or let them pass by.