The Gospel According to Bob Dylan

In 1979, Bob Dylan wrote a song called “You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody”.

Dylan was always hard to understand when he sang but a sample of the lyrics from this song went like this:

“You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks”

“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.”

A very unpopular topic in modern America is that of obedience.

Dogs obey. Americans play by their own rules – right? After all, we invented freedom and no one is going to tell us what to do.

By 1979, Americans were pushing that freedom to its limits and Dylan had gone along for the ride but he learned the truth along the way that we all have to serve somebody.

In the progression of the Songs of Ascent, Psalm 123 will sound mighty discordant to the modern reader’s ear.

I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.” Psalm 123 1, 2

Tough stuff.

Pride swallowing, knee bending, head bowing words and they stick in the throat of modern American believers.

We’ve rejected slavery, caste systems and social classes, as well we should. But in that process, we’ve forgotten that the kingdom of God is not a democracy. It’s right that our lives should not be controlled by another sinful human but God is God and deserves our unhesitating obedience in all things.

At the risk of sounding like Orwellian doublespeak – there is freedom in obedience to Jesus Christ.

In my exploration of single verse obedience this week-end, I decided to strike at one of my major failings of late – falling prey to anxiety. Truth be told, many days in the past year I could only be described as a “nervous wreck”.

So, this week-end, I chose a verse from Philippians 4 to obey “6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Every time an anxious thought entered my mind, I turned to God with it. I confessed the anxiety openly, told Him my concern, thanked Him for what I could in the situation and made my request.

Let me tell you, it was a week-end of unceasing prayer.

But by Sunday, I was beginning to sense some freedom from anxiety. Now, it’s Monday and I am continuing to improve. Freedom through obedience. I can serve Satan by giving in to my own anxious thoughts or I can confess them to God and serve Him.

I’ve got a long way to go with anxiety but this is a the path of deliverance – obedience to God.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll add to my “single verse obedience” a second verse from Philippians 2: “14Do everything without complaining or arguing,” I’m sort of frequent flyer in the disobedience league on this verse, too.

Does the word obedience set you to pawing the ground like a red cape before an angry bull? Does the language of Psalm 123 rankle your straight-kneed pride?

Here’s a news flash for you, baby, straight from a veteran of the social revolution of the sixties: YOU’VE GOT TO SERVE SOMEBODY, YES INDEED. IT MAY BE THE DEVIL OR IT MAY BE THE LORD BUT YOU’VE GOT TO SERVE SOMEBODY.

Who are you serving today?

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    The Conversation

  1. WhiteStone says:

    We’re so much inclined to serve “self”.
    Great post.

  2. Mike W. says:

    Thank you, Lori.

    As I’ve oft thought to myself, “true independence is when I am IN DEPENDENCE on God!”

  3. KB Cook says:

    Good words … Thanks (slap! slap!) I needed that!!

  4. Lori! Two weeks ago I was driving on a Sunday morning through a busy intersection. Two men were wearing signs and calling back and forth to one another over the traffic. Whose name to you think they were proclaiming? No, not Jesus. Some lady running for office.

    It always amazes me that people will do that for politicians and not for God. Like totally backwards, eh? My next blog post.

    Hold it high! love & blessings, K.

  5. Maurie@GraciousInteriors.blogspot says:

    Lori, Dillan is such an interesting lyricist and philosopher, but he is right–we do serve someone,and when we are serving ourselves, we are actually serving the Father of Lies who deceives us into thinking we will be happier than if we serve the Lord. I love your comment about the incongruity of being the most free when we serve the Lord. I see you are gaining a readership, much deserved! Any tips on how to build up mine?