Bob Dylan wrote some powerful songs about his faith journey in the late 70’s. One song he composed popped up on the music feed recently. “Gotta Serve Somebody” simply says that no matter how independent, self-sufficient or in control we might try to be we still serve something or somebody.
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
That lyric struck a spiritual chord because it reminded me of some seriously head and heart messing stuff I have been reading from Tim Keller. Keller wrote a thought provoking definition of idolatry and how we can substitute even good things for God.
“Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” (Tim Keller, “Talking About Idolatry in a Postmodern Age,” www.thegospelcoalition.org)
That is disturbing for a guy who was taught from childhood that sin is simply a list to check off to validate my righteousness. That list contained but was not limited to movies, liquor, cigarettes, dancing, shacking up, long hair and rock and roll. I thought I was doing pretty well on the idolatry commandment.
Tim Keller’s definition of sin takes all of the fun out of self-righteous comparison and judging.
Here is another toe-stomper from Tim Keller. “If our identity is in our work, rather than Christ, success will go to our heads, and failure will go to our hearts.”
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us. (Colossians 3:10-11, NLT)
Your assignment is to take a moment to read verses 12-17 to see what the results of this action might look like. There will not be a quiz.
Another key is to remember a campfire song from the Jesus movement that was, to borrow the approach of Law and Order, “ripped” from the Gospel of Matthew. (Matthew 6:33)
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.
Everybody is going to serve somebody or something. Who (or what) are you centering your life on today? I choose today to serve Jesus. I can’t do this by myself.