The video below features Mavis Staples and Johnny Lang. But they are singing the classic Bob Dylan song, “Serve Somebody.” The song is a sober reminder that no matter how big you or I may think we are, we have to remember that none of us is so powerful that, in the end, we won’t have to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but we WILL serve somebody. The choice is ultimately ours as to whom we will serve, but we will serve. No matter how big or powerful we may think we are, we’re really just a speck of dust. And even if we rule, we rule a mere anthill. We will serve somebody, we just have to decide whom.
What makes the video so interesting is that we see in the audience four former U.S. presidents. Each of these men was at one time the leader of the most powerful nation in the world (at least until recently). But even each of them will serve somebody.
None of us are “all that.” We are all headed for the grave and we go to one kingdom or the other, to one service or the other. The only theological distinction I would make to the song is this: those who ultimately will serve the devil will also need to bend the knee to Jesus. The last time I checked, the Bible says,
Because of this, God greatly exalted Jesus and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:9-11).
So although those in Hell will serve the devil, they will also have required of them an additional obeisance to the Lord.
You will serve somebody, whether you’re a president or just a mere local “high and mighty.” You will serve somebody … but whom?
Here are the words, then the video.
You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
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
You might be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief
You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name
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
You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir
Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed