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An Apple Store Christian

December 24th, 2009

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.

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