Bob Dylan wrote some powerful songs about his faith journey in the late 70’s. One song he composed popped up on the iPod 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,”
That is disturbing for a guy who was taught from childhood that sin is a list. That list contained but was not limited to movies, liquor, cigarettes, dancing, shacking up, long hair and rock and roll.
Tim Keller’s definition of sin takes all of the fun out of self-righteous comparison and judging. Today I read this from his Twitter account @dailykeller.
“”If I have THAT, my life will have meaning. I’ll have value and feel significant and secure.” THAT – is the object of your worship.
I am asking God to reveal if there is a “THAT” that is keeping me from Him. What good things have become ultimate things? I have seen how chasing good things more than God has caused pain and brokenness in my own life.
Paul wrote these words to the Church at Colossae on the topic of idolatry.
“Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (Colossians 3, NLT)
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 moments of joy and not the source of joy. Later in the passage Paul gives one key to avoiding idolatry.
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? If it is anything other than Jesus you are off center.
Author Dave Burchett's latest book is Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. You can follow him on Twitter @directordb.