Three ways to live

Which is your way?

You gotta serve somebody

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 8:05 pm on Saturday, July 28, 2007


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.

This is an excerpt from a famous Bob Dylan song “Gotta serve somebody”. It is said that John Lennon disliked Dylan’s implication that there is no third way to live (either serve God or devil) and wrote a paraphrase to the song, entitled “Serve Yourself”. While he never actually performed it, the lyrics can still be found on internet. Here is a short excerpt:

you gotta serve yourself
ain’t nobody gonna do for you
you gotta serve yourself
ain’t nobody gonna do for you
well you may believe in devils and you may believe in lords
but christ, you’re gonna have to serve yourself and that’s
all there is to it

Knowingly or not, both Bob Dylan and John Lennon picked up on a common Biblical theme that we all are serving something or somebody. Most secular people, as apparent from John Lennon’s response, prefer to think that they either don’t serve anything or in the worst case are serving themselves. But while it’s true that ultimately we are all trying to serve ourselves, we do it by serving other things that can give us what we want.

The word “serving” here is important. Very often people do not realize that by trying hard to get something they are in effect allowing it to control their lives. For example, if you try to be really successful at your work, you will realize it will start to dictate to you when to wake up and go to sleep, whether or not to take a vacation, what books to read, etc. You are no longer free – your work has become your master. Bible speaks of such things as idolatry – you create idols (work, money, relationships) to get something for yourself, but these very idols in turn start to control you.

What’s even worse, the idols you create mold you into their likeness. For example, the work might dictate to its adherents that they should dress in a particular way, keep their phones on all the time, be aggressive when it comes to competition, do pleasing things for boss, say things they do not mean, etc. In essence, you lose not only the freedom, but also your true self.

Yet, there is a master that if you serve him makes your true self come out – love. Most people agree that when you are in love you are certainly not free – your lover get to tell you what time he/she wants to see you, whether you can go out with the members of the opposite sex (hint: you cannot!). And yet, it makes you show how beautiful you truly can be. Love makes people more courteous, generous, polite, tender – sometimes you are surprised that all these things were really inside of you. In love you can get a short glimpse of what your true self is really like.

But it’s short; the hyper feeling of love wears our and we go back to our normal selves and continue to serve our work, career, money, fame. Yet, there is a master even greater than love that while enslaving your behavior makes your true self come out in all its radiant beauty – Jesus Christ. I can see that this may sound as a paradox to many. Christians are called to be Christ-like, so how can they be true to their own selves? I will let you think it over for now, and I shall further comment on this topic in one of my future posts.

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