Last night, I was at Christ Community Church’s cohort. I was answering a question about the last funeral I went to, when my iPhone alerted me to breaking news. I was a bit embarrassed since I was talking the class when it went off. So I quickly silenced my iPhone and only saw the words “Breaking News, Apple” in my haste.

After I was done sharing, I checked my iPhone to see what the news was. Steve Jobs had passed away.

The next few minutes I wasn’t really thinking about the discussion at hand. I was thinking about the legacy of Steve Jobs. I was thinking about the impact he had on my life.

I’m sometimes a bit cynical when a celebrity dies because it seems a number of people take to social media to talk about how that celebrity was their “favorite” and how “the world will not be the same” without them. It comes across as filler. Why do I say that? Because the next time a celebrity dies they go through the motions again. This wasn’t the case with Steve.

As I scrolled through my feed on Twitter, I read a lot of touching tributes from friends. A number of my friends are creatives and developers, and their Mac products are vital to their well-being. Steve wasn’t just someone to them to be consumed, he was an inspiration. They followed his approach of having care and passion for their work.

I had a few friends that went to the local Apple Store, around midnight, to leave a memorial.

photo by Andy Peters

It wasn’t so long ago that being an owner of an Apple product was uncool. Some had declared the PC the winner of the desktop war*, but Steve didn’t care. He was thinking beyond the desktop. He was thinking about the future and preparing for it. And while people were still thinking Apple was niche, he had already laid the foundation for Apple to be a force in life and culture.

*It still boggles the mind that in the 1985 Apple had forced out Steve Jobs. The company subsequently tanked, and sat on the brink of oblivion, when they finally asked him back. His firing is probably one of the stupidest business decisions ever made, and Apple should be thankful he didn’t hold a grudge and came back to run the company.

In the fall of 2006, I was helping to develop creative pieces for Christ Community Church’s new RISKS* initiative. Some people decided to start a creative team meeting, and there were a hodgepodge of us staff there trying to come up with something to help launch RISKS as well. For the first two hours of it, the meeting had been a waste. There wasn’t really a clear direction for the meeting, and not all the right people were there. I was starting to get a bit frustrated that my morning was going to be wasted.

*RISKS is an adjective, and acronym, of what CCC has called its disciples of Jesus. Relies on God, Initiates interest, Serves people, Kingdom investor, Shaped into Christ likeness. In the words of Lead Pastor Mark, “One of the biggest threats that we see as American Christians is that we would become comfortable in our Christianity. We want to be people who are willing to put it all on the line and take risks for the sake of the Gospel.”

At one point, we were brainstorming for a video to launch RISKS. I referenced Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, and talked about what Apple and Steve Jobs had done with it. I showed everyone the original “Think Different” video and then explained how we could do something similar. We would showcase people who had positively impacted the world for Jesus. These people would not be traditional Christians, but would be people known by the world. We wanted to showcase these people that others may not know were motivated by Jesus.

The people at the meeting liked the concept, and so we created a campaign and video that was inspired by “Think Different”. While our campaign, and the video “Live Different”, is but a shadow of what “Think Different” was, we were inspired by the idea. An idea that transcends books, classes and Sunday services. Much like Apple’s idea that transcended computers and inspired people to bigger and better things, we wanted our idea to transcend to people so they would live differently. Live better. Live lives for Jesus and on behalf of Jesus.

Here’s the video we created to launch RISKS.

A number of the individuals, in this video, we put on posters around the church and on the website. I picked a number of the people that we’d showcase in the campaign, which would ultimately cause people inside and outside the church to complain. Not only complain, but some people would vandalize the posters. I found this funny and sad. I found it interesting that a number of those complaining didn’t attend CCC. These fellow Christians would intentionally take us out of context and lie about our motivations and purposes.

I was grateful for Mark’s response. It addressed these complaints head on and let people know we were on a new trajectory at CCC. It was not about maintaining the status quo.

Here’s part of Mark’s response from his message on November 12, 2006:

There are great examples of people of faith who have seen God use them in powerful ways in their work, and their labor, and their endurance. Some of these folks have been put up around the church on posters. People have asked, “Why these people? Of all the people that you could have chosen to be on the posters around the church, why did you pick these?” Because not all of them are American. Not all of them are white. Not all of them are male. Not all of them have lily white moral track records. Not all of them are from the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Some of them are not even evangelical. Not all of them are Republican either. So people ask, “Why are they there? What do they have in common?” Well, they are not the world’s greatest theologians. If we were looking for the world’s greatest theologians we would have put up different posters. They are not the most morally pure. If we were looking for them we would have different posters. They are not the richest or the poorest followers of Jesus. Those would be different posters. Some, as they look at those, say, “Does this symbolize some secret theological shift away from Biblical convictions or the Christian and Missionary Alliance doctrine?” And the answer is, no . . . no . . . nothing like that at all. Some have asked, “Does this demonstrate that our church has an openness to blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Middle Easterners, and Irish people?” And the answer is, absolutely! You better believe it! It is our prayer that our church increasingly reflects the beauty of God’s diversity in his creation in this world. Does it show a passion to be including a variety of people at our church, including Baptists, Catholics, Christian and Missionary Alliance background, Atheists, Muslims, Jewish people, so that all can experience the power and love of Jesus in this environment? And the answer is, you better believe it! That is the dream of what this church is about, that anybody would be welcome here to experience the love and power and transformation of Jesus, regardless of their background.

The people on the posters were chosen as examples of disciples who took risks for the RISKS series. What is true of all of them is that these are disciples who took massive risks in Jesus’ name and that God used them to change the world. Think about what God accomplished through the lives of these people. It is amazing. Some of them stood up to the Nazis. They reached hundreds of thousands of people with the good news of Jesus. They built hundreds of thousands of homes for people who didn’t have homes. They reached prisoners with God’s grace. They taught God’s word with boldness and clarity. They stood up for life. They stimulated the fall of Communism. They loved the poor and the dying of India. They have been a voice to mobilize entire nations to tackle the AIDS crisis in Africa and other nations that are experiencing this blight. God used them in powerful ways.

Now, every person on those posters has a sorted, evil, immoral past. Just like me, and just like you. If I look at the people on those posters I bet I would have theological disagreements with every single one of them. Some of them major theological disagreements, but in spite of that, they inspire me and they cause me to ask some big questions. Questions life, why is God using them to change the world while I’m at home watching Monday Night Football? How might God use me if I take risks like they did? Am I willing to put my faith, love and hope on the line to turn it in to work, labor and endurance, like the people on the posters did?

To those that complained, I’m sure they would like us even less if they knew Steve Jobs was an inspiration in how we launched RISKS. We were trying to think different so we could help people to live different.

Thanks Steve.

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