An Apple Store Christian

photo_victoriasquareI have been in three Apple Stores in recent years. The first was located in King of Prussia Mall on the north-western outskirts of Philadelphia, one of the largest retail outlet facilities in the western world. It was incredibly seductive with its minimalism and the clean, bright, clinical presentation of Apple products.

I have also visited the basement location for the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York, next to FAO Schwartz and right across from the old Plaza Hotel (made famous by Home Alone as “New York’s most exciting hotel experience…spacious and luxurious”). The NY Apple Store was equally impressive and attractive. The entrance is a glass cube, housing a cylindrical elevator and a spiral staircase that leads into the actual store.180px-apple_store_fifth_avenue

This week I booked an appointment at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store in Belfast to see if they could fix a couple of glitches on my iPhone. Not only is the Genius Bar a wonderful facility, where they promise to attend to all technical difficulties with Apple products, but the attitude of the specialists who work there is remarkable.

While I was being attended (and I was taken a few minutes ahead of my booked slot), there were five or six other customers who came to the Bar. I couldn’t help but notice the positive and encouraging way in which each customer was greeted. The specialist listened carefully as each customer described the problem they had and always responded with a positive word of assurance such as “We’ll get that sorted out for you right now” or “No problem. We’ll have a closer look and deal with it.”

Whatever training these guys received on customer care, it was clearly working. I saw at least five happy customers walk away with their problem solved or with a replacement piece of kit. I have often been in the situation of presenting a problem at a shop or garage to be told, “Oh, that’s not easily fixed. I don’t think we can do anything about that” or “That’s an expensive job. I don’t know when I could get it done.” Not so in the Apple Store!

My thought was, “Why can’t Christians be more like this? Why can’t the church be more positive and helpful?” After all, isn’t kindness and helpfulness and a positive attitude meant to be part of the DNA of Christianity? And yet so many people have a negative experience of Christians and the church. It shouldn’t be like that. We know that we are not saved by our good works, but we are not saved without them (Westminster Confession of Faith, XVI, II).

The Bible says that Christians are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The word “walk” suggests our common, everyday experience, not the unusual or heroic. Many of us can rise to the special occasion, but clearly God intends us to be Christlike in the mundane and humdrum activities of daily life.

Much encouragement and happiness are brought to people in what we think of as little things. It seems trifling that I feel better knowing that my iPhone now synchs more smoothly with my computer. But by helping me to accomplish that small thing, my Apple Store genius made my life better. And the woman who walked away with a new battery in her daughter’s iPod or the man who got his iPhone replaced as a result of a visit to the Genius Bar are bound to be feeling better this Christmas.

A good resolution for me for the New Year would be to try to be an Apple Store Christian. By God’s grace, in being positive and helping people with the small things in their lives, perhaps I can be more like Jesus.

Postscript: Just remembered: Patricia asked me to get firelighters. I should probably start to implement my new resolution today.

5 Replies to “An Apple Store Christian”

  1. I think the important part is when you wrote “by Gods grace, in being positive…..” It is by Gods grace otherwise we are in the try harder mentality as after all the staff at those stores are simply on the surface being ultra helpful and there is probably some merit or reward for them in doing so – when GOds grace changes folks it is to core of who they are so that they no longer are even aware that they are trying to be positive etc, it is part of them.

    Other thing that struck me is the sadness of these stores, genuis bars etc as in my mind I go back to your posts after your trip to Africa and again I am reminded of the difference between rich and poor between necessity and luxury and how we fit into that as christians.

  2. YOU’RE RIGHT STAFFORD,

    Isn’t it a pity that there were no apple trained Christians in Church House, during the great and speedy hand washing, that occured in the immediate aftermath of the Presbyterian Mutual collapse, and isn’t it also a pity that there were none in First Portadown during December 2007.

    ‘THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY’

    Just over 2000 years ago, God intrusted the seed that was to become the true light of the world, to a Godly young woman.

    She faithfully accepted, nourished, and developed the seed within her womb. After 9 months she delivered the True Light of the World into the world. She then had to flee immediatly to a distant land, with the Light of the World and her husband, to protect the Light from those who wished to extinguish it.

    She cared for, developed, and educated the Light from childhood to manhood. It was at her request that the True Light of the World performed his first miracle.

    Although it was not the accepted norm at those times, the True Light of the World used woman many times in mighty ways, to fulfil the gospel. On one occassion he used a young Samarian woman to successfully MINISTER the gospel of Salvation to her fellow Samarians. As a result off her ministery many of the Samarians came to personally worship the True Light of the World.

    It was women who stood faithfully at the foot of the cross, while ‘Peter the rock’, and the rest of the disciples were denying and deserting the Light.

    On the third day it was to a woman, that the Angel first proclaimed, ‘HE IS RISEN’, and it was a woman that first proclaimed to the still hiding disciples, ‘HE IS RISEN.’

    This Christmas let us sincerly give thanks, for the faithful, God given, ministry of women!

  3. I too had a very positive and surprising visit to the genius bar in Belfast, the staff are excellent and I agree that due to this positive experience I’ve been telling others – any parallels yet?

    Totally agree Satfford, if we in the church could be as welcoming and positve what a change we could make – maybe room for a new year’s resolution?

  4. Thank you, Charlie, for your reflections in praise of women.Generally speaking,they ARE more civil than their male counterparts,but the fact remains that leadership is male.That said,I have met a right few male Christians in my day and the nearest they’ll ever get to the’Apple’ version,is giving you the pip.

  5. @Tom Morrow

    Thank you Tom for your reply,

    Will you please re-read my original comment. If you do I hope you will then realise that it is not as you state, ‘reflections in praise of women.’

    It is in fact a very short, but very factual summary of the earthly life and loving gospel of Jesus Christ, and some of the women who God used directly in mighty ways to help minister amd fulfil the Gospel.

    Yes you are correct in your assertion that in the Jewish Church, the Roman Catholic Church, First Portadown, and in many other devoutly religious ISM’s, leadership is strictly male.

    As for me a poorly educated, constantly struggling, constantly sinning apprentice Christian, I prefer to follow the factual directly loving example of Jesus Christ. I also take guidance from his factual directly given assurance, that in heaven there will be neither Male nor Female. Just forgiven soul’s saved by faith in the loving Gospel and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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