FIRST-PERSON: Everything is different, but nothing has changed
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- Steve Jobs didn't have a lot to say. He didn't give a lot of speeches except for the now-famous 2005 graduation address at Stanford University. He was a private man.
Yet Jobs was one of history's greatest communicators, for he changed the history of communication itself. Jobs' mission was delivering as much content as possible to as many people as possible, as quickly, as portably and as affordably as possible.
Jobs wasn't a perfect man, but perhaps his commitment to his mission will remind us of our commitment to ours. We're to rededicate ourselves every day to deliver the Gospel to as many people possible, as quickly as possible, and as portably and affordably as possible. We're to go into this world and preach the Gospel to every person.
What is different?
As I study the history of evangelism, I'm impressed that Christians have always used the most advanced technologies of their day to deliver the Gospel, starting with the apostle Paul. Though the world changed little in his day, Paul took advantage of even the smallest technological advancements. He used papyrus instead of parchment. Roman roads instead of self-made trails. Roman ships instead of inland routes. Gentile agoras in addition to Jewish synagogues. Greek in addition to Hebrew.
Paul used every means available to him, not compromising his morals or his message, but adapting his methods to ensure the greatest possible success. He was aware of his audience and took a variety of approaches as he spoke to Jews in the synagogue, Gentiles in the arena, philosophers in the marketplace, or despots in the palace.
Since New Testament days, Christians have followed His example in using "all means" to spread the Gospel.
In the 1400s, Johannes Gutenberg changed the world with his printing press. The first book that rolled out of its movable type? The Bible.
In 1844, Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message from the chambers of the Supreme Court to the halls of Congress. The message? A Bible verse, Numbers 23:23.
After the discovery of radio, Christians began utilizing this new medium to spread the Gospel two months after public broadcasts began.
Each new chapter of our expanding technology -- the Internet, for example -- allows us to reach more people with the message of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.
What has not changed?
The world is changing, but the more it changes, the more it stays the same. People are still sinners. Sin is still awful. Death is still coming. Judgment is still waiting. The grace of God is still available. And the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still our only hope.
I grew up in an era in which thousands of people came to the Lord through multiple methods, some of which are still useful today. But the Gospel I preach is exactly the same as the apostle Paul presented in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (verses 1-4).
The ministry of soul-winning is never out of season. It's just the act of one person telling another the wonderful grace of Jesus. Instead of reduced options or decreased openness, we have more ways than ever to share Christ.
Steve Jobs' words in his address to the graduates of Stanford University. were poignant: "Your time is limited, so don't waste it...." He was right in saying our time on earth is limited. We should live each day as if it were our last and seek to do those things that really matter. It is one thing to make an impact on this planet, but it's another to make a difference for eternity.
Let's tell the old story to a new age with fresh zeal. Let's say with Paul, "I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22b).