Steve, Silicon Valley, and Jesus

I live six miles from Apple’s headquarters. Yesterday I drove those six miles to have lunch at a restaurant across the street from Apple with an Apple engineer who is part of our church plant. I was impressed by this man’s passion for working at Apple and for sharing the gospel with his co-workers at Apple.

I told him about my old friend who is very high up at Apple, a Christian who has watched the gospel spread in exciting ways within the company. I told him how at the breakfast meetings I used to have with this old friend, Steve Jobs would sometimes call or text my friend during our breakfast. That’s the closest I ever got to Steve Jobs.

But Steve Jobs got close to me. His products are in my house and in my pocket. Steve’s inventions are in your home too. Steve’s stuff is everywhere.

That’s the exciting thing about living and working in Silicon Valley: what happens here impacts the world. I don’t think there is another geographic region quite like it, a region that has such an exponential world-wide impact. Think about it. Silicon Valley is home to: Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Netflix, Hewlett-Packard, Adobe Systems, Cisco, Oracle, Intel, and many other paradigm shifting companies that have changed the way we live.

It’s not just what’s in my pocket, but the pockets themselves that Steve Jobs has impacted. I often wonder if the reason I preach in jeans is because Steve Jobs presented in jeans—is Steve the one who made it normal for a leader to stand in front of a large crowd and deliver important information while wearing jeans? And several times now I’ve referred to the former Apple CEO simply as “Steve.” That’s the culture here in Silicon Valley: casual. You call the CEO of the richest company in America, “Steve,” not “Mr. Jobs.” Twenty years ago that was not how you addressed or spoke of CEOs or others in positions of authority. Here in Silicon Valley and all across the world, Steve has impacted our technology, our clothing, and how we talk to each other.

Steve accomplished a staggering amount in 56 years. In my opinion, my life and your life is better because of a man named Steve. And now, Steve is dead. The man who improved our life has lost his life.

What I like to think is that in his last days Steve placed his faith in Jesus. It’s entirely possible. I know that Steve was coming into regular contact with Christians and hearing the gospel at Apple. Only God knows where Steve sits today.

Jesus lived on earth for just 33 years in a place far less sexy than Silicon Valley. He never invented anything, yet he changed the world. He died a far more brutal death than Steve. Jesus didn’t merely die, he was killed. Two thousand years later, Jesus is everywhere—all around the world people are still talking about, worshiping, loving, and following Jesus. We will be talking about Steve for a long time, but as the decades roll by those conversations will fade. And Apple won’t live forever.

Steve gave 56 years of his life to improve our life.

Jesus gave 33 years of his life to save our life.

That’s the big difference between Steve and Jesus. Steve came to improve. Jesus came to save. One man thought that improvement is what we need most. The other man thought that saving—rescue—is what we need most.

The gospel of Silicon Valley is improvement. I live and minister in a place that is improving lives here and around the world. I dream of impacting this region that’s impacting the world with a different gospel. Steve is great. But we don’t need Steve, we need Jesus. I’m thankful for the man that improved our life. But we need to know the man who lost his life to save our life.



This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Thanks for this perspective Justin. In my opinion, even in Christian circles there seems to have been a misguided focus to worship the created rather than the Creator. Soli Deo Gloria!

  2. Didnt Paul say to turn away fromanyone who preached a gospel other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The focus of Silicon Valley is improvement, technology and fun. The Gospel of Silicon Valley is the same as the san Fernando Valley or Death Valley. God, as man, crucified and arose for your sins and mine and Steve Jobs that whosoever believes in that gospel has everlasting life. He is still the great IAM not the mighty Ipod

  3. Hello Justin,
    Thanks for your post. It’s really great to hear about your particular mission field and the way the Gospel is working there in what is the technological center of America, if not the world.
    I wonder, though, about your comment that you’d “like to believe that in his last days Steve placed his faith in Jesus.” I understand the sentiment and in one a sense I agree in that I think that to not know Christ is a complete tragedy. However, I wonder if comments phrased like yours so closely cushioned by what almost seem like wistful hopes (i.e. “it’s entirely possible”) accurately reflect God’s total sovereignty and justice in the matter, especially in this case when the man we are talking about had public affiliations with Buddhism and some questionable professional practices (i.e. Apple has a production plant in China with notorious working conditions). Over the years, I’ve read a number of Christian Apple fans (mostly guys, I have to say) who have said similar things about Steve converting–including a pastor I’m sure you heard of who posted a “letter to Steve” on his blog. To be honest, these sound like the comments of fanboys rather than thoughts grounded in serious theology about the life and soul of a real person who, if not saved, both chose not to be saved and was not chosen (but was most certainly, in this case, used by God to bring great gifts to society). If you have time, could you help me unpack this? Am I misinterpreting something? I just think that in light of what we know about God’s control and Steve’s beliefs and the manner and drive of his professional life, such comments deserve more depth.

  4. Hello Justin!

    My name is Daniel. I’m a brazilian Christian and, like you, Steve’s fan. I have a blog, where I write on sciences, christianity and technology, sometimes. So, I ask you: can I translate your article and publish it in my blog next week? I loved it, because it is full of truth.

    An embrace, in the love of Christ,

    Daniel Ruy Pereira.

  5. Justin, you nailed it – you honored the dead and the secular and gracefully put it up against the life and impact of Christ. When compared, the best the world offers up is always found wanting. The Wall Street Journal should reference THIS blog.

  6. […] From » Steve, Silicon Valley, and Jesus on Buzzard Blog: Jesus lived on earth for just 33 years in a place far less sexy than Silicon Valley.  He never invented anything, yet he changed the world.  He died a far more brutal death than Steve.  Jesus didn’t merely die, he was killed.  Two thousand years later, Jesus is everywhere–all around the world people are still talking about, worshipping, loving, and following Jesus.  We will be talking about Steve for a long time, but as the decades roll by those conversations will fade.  Apple won’t live forever. […]

  7. Do you really think that companies like Apple, Facebook, etc. Really help to improve our lives – I believe that they help enable us to become more self focused and help enable us to not seek the one and only Savior Jesus – I am a big fan of your blog, but really do not agree that the companies have “improved” life.

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