We All Serve Something or Somebody

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.”

Who I am serving today and where I place my identity will define my actions and reactions. I wrote this in Waking Up Slowly.
My worth is not in always being right or being the smartest guy in the room. My worth is defined by being a child of God and a friend of Jesus. When I keep my eyes on Jesus, I maintain a better perspective on every area of my life.
It is a hard truth to admit that we often worship the things of this world because they really can be good things. God in His loving grace does not desire for us to be deprived of good and pleasurable things. He simply wants us to place them in proper order and to understand they are sources of happiness and not the source of joy. Later in the passage Paul gives one key to avoiding idolatry and where our identity should be found.

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.
Allelu, alleluia

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.