A Lesson From the Life of Steve Jobs

There have been many posts about Steve Jobs’ recent death. Ed Stetzer writes about how Steve’s slow decline from public view pushes us to live in light of eternity. Justin Taylor writes about it at The Gospel Coalition yesterday, and he writes about the Gospel According to Steve Jobs today. And I particularly loved the blog Mike Anderson wrote for The Resurgence.

While it’s absolutely true that we must live in light of eternity, I fear that this may sometimes mislead us if we are not very articulate in what we mean by statements such as these. Many people, myself included, have understood the concept of “living life in light of eternity” to mean something along the lines of “You need to have an answer when God asks ‘Why should I let you into My Heaven?'” While there may be a measure of truth to that, it conveys a message that what happens on earth doesn’t really matter, as long as we know “the answer” to get us into Heaven. To be clear, I don’t believe for a minute that this is what Ed Stetzer was trying to communicate.

Living in light of eternity, being “hardwired for forever,” means more than I can possible address, but one of the things that it does mean is that we will be held accountable for our actions on earth, in this life. This isn’t anything new. The church has used this truth in attempt to dissuade people from immoral and unethical behavior for longer than I’ve been alive. But, it goes farther and deeper than that.

Steve Jobs revolutionized the world. Since the inception of the first Mac, he began a path that would lead him to completely change the way we work, communicate, and even find our way around town. In the blog Ed Stetzer wrote yesterday, he shows us show how impactful Apple has been on his daily routine. In a “pep talk” of sorts that my boss gave our team yesterday, he mentioned that when a manager came to Jobs with a solution to a problem, or a new product, he’d ask “Is this the very best you can do?” If not, Jobs would send that manager back to make it the very best.

Living in light of eternity shouldn’t just make us apprehensive in doing wrong, but should propel us to do what is right. Now, I don’t mean this in a mere legalistic sense. Rather, it should propel us to spread the gospel, make disciples, fervently pray for one another, fiercely study the Scriptures. I do not know Steve Jobs’ spiritual convictions, but he did set an example of what it means to strive for excellence (though I may not condone all of his business practices).

Obviously, the Holy Spirit plays a huge role in our sanctification, but how different would our lives be for the Kingdom if we took the “very best” concept to heart? How different would it be if we devoted ourselves to the “very best” understanding of Scripture we can possibly have (and not just the theologians, but the laypeople as well). How different would the Kingdom of God look right now if we did our “very best” to bear each others burdens, in a real sense (meaning not just saying “I’ll pray for you” but actually meeting felt needs). How different would the Kingdom look if we devoted ourselves to passionate prayer, so that we would have the “very best” relationship with our Father that we can possibly have?

I realize the sovereignty of God has much to do with all of this, including our affections toward doing our “very best,” and I’m not trying to say that we can obtain all this by working harder, but rather by falling completely and totally on the grace of God as He enables us to do our very best.

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