Bob Dylan has a song titled, “Gotta serve somebody,” that punctuated the reality that we humans will “serve” or worship somebody or something no matter what status we hold in life or endeavors we accomplish. Many have identified with that sentiment by recognizing the spiritual truth embodied in those lyrics.
This author makes no endorsement of Mr. Dylan but does relate to the song’s message, hence this article’s title. Two of the 10 Commandments give instruction about this issue. Both Exodus 20 and Deut 5 affirm that one should not have any God’s before the one true God and that there should not be any idols or images made of idols whatsoever in the life of God’s people.
These commandments were given to protect the people from falling away from the one they should stay closest to. Much like warning signs are posted for our own safety, these were given for our spiritual benefit. In the New and Old Testaments, there are numerous warnings about giving our spiritual time, and allegiance to God’s enemies. The adage, “if you play with fire, eventually you’ll get burned,” applies to our spiritual well-being.
Idols can be many things besides an overt expression of a deity. But idolatry usually is centered on personality. Think of cult figures past and present that are followed in hopes of some type of soulish deliverance. Giving themselves over to the demands of that faith expression. Idolatry can be many things such as activities, career pursuits, selfishness, atheism, secular humanism, politics. The criteria being: What is it that controls your thought life and is the prime motivator for your actions and decisions?
Be advised about this one blatant truth: You will become like the god or idol that you worship/follow. If you follow yourself, then self-centeredness will permeate your life. If you follow atheism, then there are no moral absolutes above your own reasoning to restrict your behavior. Morality becomes subjective. You become your own ruler, read that, you become your own god, or idol.
We are spiritual beings, seeking spiritual belonging. We are made in the image of God. Gen 1:26-27. God made us to worship him and when we do not do what is built into our being’s being, then by spiritual nature we will gravitate for a replacement. This supplanting will bring disastrous consequences, and so God’s great love for us brings God’s warning not to go in a different direction.
Mankind will never be truly humanistic despite any worldwide attempts because a starving person will reach for anything to put inside themselves. Our worship inclination becomes subservient in the atmosphere of believed spiritual superiority. The obvious, “something bigger than ourselves.” If anyone comes to that perceived recognition, then they will serve that master.
With that: Jesus said that we can’t serve two masters. Luke 16:13. The truthfulness is we will give divided allegiance or fall short of the commitment expected concerning God. In time, we will grow resentful and rebellious. Especially if material gain is involved. Someone trying to serve two masters is either traitorous or ineffectual.
Who or what controls your spiritual life? What has “mastered” you? In the pursuits of life, what directional authority guides you? Can anyone do an objective honest evaluation of the “end result” in the appeal and substance of that which they have sacred pious devotion? What is the day-to-day requirements, doctrines, ethics, life after death answers?
How is communication/prayer, financial support, organization handled? In serving the divinity, what in your life comes under their control and why? What rational is given and from what source? What history, or leaders can you point to and with what criteria is any judgment or analysis used? Here’s this bottom line: why do you serve this master?
We humans can walk in denial that we don’t need God, but we will always be looking for a transcendence greater than ourselves. And God declared himself the greatest deity since he is The Creator above and beyond his creation. Romans 1:18-25, and in Rev 17:14 and 19:16 where he is referenced Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
Look into the God of Jesus Christ for the answers to the preceding questions in this article. After all, “you gotta serve somebody.”