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What if Steve Jobs had never existed?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A bouquet of flowers, candles, and an iPhone form an impromptu shrine in front of the upper west side Apple Store in New York October 5, 2011 (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

“America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein.”  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tribute to Steve Jobs is one of hundreds making global headlines this morning.

As you know, the 56-year-old founder of Apple died last night.  President Obama paid tribute: “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators–brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”  Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg thanked Jobs “for showing that what you build can change the world.”

A colleague who worked with him for 17 years picked up that theme: “Try to imagine today’s society if Steve didn’t exist.”  What would be different?  Technologists have composed a list of his unique contributions: Making computers accessible to non-technical people with MacIntosh; reinventing the music industry with iPod and iTunes; revitalizing animation with Pixar; reinventing the personal communications industry with iPhone; changing the way we consume media with iPad; changing the way software and hardware are sold; forever altering the language of computer interfaces; and building Apple from nothing into the second-most valuable company in the world.

If he were responsible only for the MacBook, or the iPod, or ITunes, or the iPhone, or the iPad, his death would be global news.  That he led in the creation of all five justifies the consensus that Steve Jobs was a true genius.

Reading these tributes sparked this question for me: What if I had never existed?  How would the world be different?  If I died today, what headlines would the event generate?  Have I done anything unique, or significant, or lasting?  Have you?

Absolutely.  We exist for a reason.  God didn’t make us because the world needed another human.  Our planet is home to 6,966,621,749 people as of this moment; it didn’t need one more.  I’m not here because we were running short on Baptist preachers.  You and I exist because the Lord of the universe wanted us to exist.  We are his unique creation.  We possess gifts and capacities which no other person has been given in precisely the same way.  We have a calling and purpose which no other person can fulfill.

The world may not notice us, but heaven does.  In the arena where we live we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses.”  Now our Father calls us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” as we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The world will miss Steve Jobs.  One day it will miss us as well.  In the meantime, let’s run our race well.  On whom are your eyes fixed this morning?