Daily Devotional: Colossians 1:15-20


In 1979, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan wrote an interesting song for his new Slow Train Coming album, which most of his fans didn’t appreciate. The lyrics in the chorus of this song began with:

     You’re gonna have to serve somebody
     Yes, you are,
     You’re gonna have to serve somebody

If you know anything about Bob Dylan, you can probably see why it made his listeners uncomfortable. For two decades he had been singing songs of emancipation and questioning authority and had gathered a following that rebelled not just against the mainstream, but against the fundamental spiritual truth of servanthood.

And, of course, this kind of thinking isn’t limited to those decades, or Dylan fans, or music lovers, or a certain generation.… People have always wanted to think of themselves as the bosses of their own lives. We decide what’s right and wrong. We decide what’s going to happen to us, for us and around us. But . . . at the end of the day, we are not gods. We did not create ourselves and we do not have ultimate control over our lives. We do, in fact, have to serve somebody. The question becomes: Who is it that we should serve?

Forty years after Bob Dylan insightfully sang about having to serving somebody, our culture is shouting at the top of its lungs that we should serve ourselves. This decade’s thinking is: if we define ourselves, then believe in our definition, we have the power to do whatever we want with our lives, and no one has the right to question or stop it. As liberating as that sounds on the surface, deep down we should know it’s a lie. We can’t save ourselves from death. We can’t avoid pain or keep from causing others pain. We can’t operate autonomously. We do, in fact, have to serve somebody . . . other than ourselves.

In light of this unavoidable truth, and in light of these confusing times of pandemics and discontent and riots and unrest, I would like to answer those still wrestling with the question, “Who is it that we should serve?”—as well as remind those who have already figured it out—that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the answer.

Why Jesus? The apostle Paul sums it up well in Colossians 1:15-20:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers and authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.”

That’s why we serve Jesus. It’s why we want to know what he said and did and taught and commanded. It’s why we trust our brothers and sisters in Christ and lean on each other in times of trouble. It’s why we trust Scripture and our elders, and lean on them in times of confusion.
When you find yourselves troubled by rulers and authorities in these controversial, uncontrollable times, tempted to pronounce judgements on those above you and around you, remember that you’re gonna have to serve somebody, and remember who that should be.