Inspiration

The Reckless Love of God

The Church in many places now is singing a song called “Reckless Love.” It’s a beautiful song and the lyrics are precious, powerful, and thought-provoking (you can read them at the end of this post).

The chorus begins with the phrase

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Powerful! The first person I ever heard refer to the “reckless love of God” was Rich Mullins. He was the artist who sang “Our God is an Awesome God!” He had a song called “The Love of God” (lyrics below). In that song he referred to

the reckless raging fury

That they call the love of God

This concept of the “reckless” love of God is one the Church can not afford to miss! What God has done to bring us into fellowship with Himself even at the cost of His own Son; even at the cost of allowing people to be separated from Him eternally; all because He wants those who want Him! All for His love for us! Come on!

Reckless Love

Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, Ran Jackson

[Verse 1]

Before I spoke a word

You were singing over me

You have been so, so

Good to me

Before I took a breath

You breathed Your life in me

You have been so, so

Kind to me

[Chorus]

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it

I don’t deserve it

Still You give yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

[Verse 2]

When I was your foe, still Your love fought for me

You have been so, so

Good to me

When I felt no worth

You paid it all for me

You have been so, so

Kind to me

The Love of God

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

I cannot find in my own

And He keeps His fire burning

To melt this heart of stone

Keeps me aching with a yearning

Keeps me glad to have been caught

In the reckless raging fury

That they call the love of God

Now I’ve seen no band of angels

But I’ve heard the soldiers’ songs

Love hangs over them like a banner

Love within them leads them on

To the battle on the journey

And it’s never gonna stop

Ever widening their mercies

And the fury of His love

Oh the love of God

And oh, the love of God

The love of God

Joy and sorrow are this ocean

And in their every ebb and flow

Now the Lord a door has opened

That all Hell could never close

Here I’m tested and made worthy

Tossed about but lifted up

In the reckless raging fury

That they call the love of God

Written by Richard Mullins • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group

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16 replies »

  1. I just can’t agree with the notion of God as “reckless”. Reckless means careless and irresponsible.

    The shepherd in the parable quoted in the song wasn’t “reckless” when he left the 99 sheep to find the one lost sheep. The 99 were safe. If they weren’t the shepherd would not have been so irresponsible as to leave them.

    God Is NEVER reckless. He made a sacrifice for us but it was well considered and part of a masterfully crafted plan.

    This reminds me of Keller’s poorly considered book title, “The Prodigal Father”, as if God is wasteful or reckless in his “spending”.

    People need to check the definition of words before they start creatively using them, especially about God.

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    • I appreciate your opinion Dan, though I believe you have missed the point. Recklessness is a concept that can be weighed out differently in different contexts. Let me ask you a question: when God “decided” (before the first creature was ever created) that He would indeed create humanity and give them free will, did He or did He not know that some would love Him and be saved and that countless others would not love Him and be damned? From one perspective–the perspective of someone who does not understand or know God–you could say it was reckless for God to risk the loss of countless souls to an eternal punishment in flames, just so that those who would love Him could love Him and be saved. But He did it, I think, because He is love and His love compelled Him to invite whosoever will to enter into His fellowship.

      The idea of leaving the 99 for the one who was lost can be seen as reckless, in a way, at least from the perspective of the 99 (we’re talking sheep, not Christians). The sheep might have thought, “What if an intruder or a predator comes while the shepherd is gone?”

      Either way, of course the definition of reckless means what you say, but figuratively, it can also refer to one who is so passionate that he or she was willing to spare no expense, willing even to die, for one he or she loves. Some would say that is a reckless love that doesn’t even care about itself in order to love another.

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      • Dan, you are correct. By definition, God is never “reckless”. This is a mischaracterization of who God is. I’ve been explaining this to whomever will listen, but I have found that many don’t want their favorite songs corrected. No matter how beautiful a song is, or how wonderful it makes a person feel, scripture teaches that we are to worship Him in truth, and to call God “reckless” simply is not true.

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      • “Recklessness is a concept that can be weighed out differently in different contexts.”

        When? Where?

        Charles, give me just one example in common parlance where “reckless” is “weighed out” in a positive context?

        Are there any? People use the term reckless as a negative about someone’s behavior. That’s pretty much it. Reckless driving, reckless endangerment, reckless abandon, reckless behavior. We all know what reckless means.

        But setting the argument of the definition aside, it is clear you are reading into the lyrics what you HOPE they could mean even though that is not at all what they say plainly or probably what you know in your heart. Your’s is the weak defense of something that would be, with just a little bit of study and discernment, revealed as a heretical teaching.

        What I heard initially as a defense of “Reckless Love” (from the author no less) was “no, no, I’m not talking about GOD being reckless – of course not! I’m talking about his LOVE being reckless.”

        So already we hear from the author’s lips that he knows it would be a bad thing to label God Himself “reckless”. To me this reveals that Asbury doesn’t believe God and His love are inseparable, so he’s already boxed himself into a false doctrine in his defense of the false teaching in his song.

        Then, when some of the more clear-minded among Asbury’s defenders realized that labeling God’s attributes and behavior as something negative was blasphemous, they did what you have done Charles; they say “From the perspective of someone who does not understand or know God” it was reckless of God to do X. So now it is not supposed to be an assertion by Asbury about the nature of God’s love, but rather, putting to voice what non-Christians think about God’s love.

        Is that what the song says?

        Of course not.

        Asbury is asserting a truth in his mind, about the nature of God’s love and he attempts to back that up throughout the song lyric. He is not saying “people who don’t know God think His love is reckless.” That’s obviously not what the lyric says.

        All the lyrics are written to support Asbury’s primary, titular thesis; that God’s love is in actuality, reckless. After all, “it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine.”

        That’s not a statement about what the world thinks of God’s love. It is what Asbury himself (and the people mindlessly singing this song) think about God’s love.

        Further to this point, of those “who do not understand or know God”, there are probably 25 on the entire planet that when asked, would describe God’s love as being reckless. And I’m probably overstating that number. If you ask a non-believer what they think about God’s love, recklessness would be low on the list. If they think about it at all, they might call His love pointless, stupid, useless, irrelevant, or even evil.

        So how does that Asbury lyric go?

        “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, pointless love of God”

        For why not use that lyric? Is it not what someone who does not know God thinks about God’s love?

        But there is an even deeper problem with the lyric that many miss. What is the song about? By that I mean, what is the basis for the assertion about God’s “reckless love”.

        Answer: The Parable of the Lost Sheep.

        So let’s look at what Jesus was teaching to the assembled audience for the story. That parable is part of a pair that then contrasts with a third.

        The first two, the lost sheep and the lost coin, are aimed squarely at the Pharisees who accused Jesus of cavorting with sinners. In those two stories he places the assembled accusers in the role of shepherd/housewife and goes on to illustrate how they love objects (the lamb and the coin) so much they would do anything to find them. When they did find their lost object, they would rejoice greatly – and they would do so even over a possession. He then contrasts what they would do against what the Heavenly Father does. The father in the final story waits for his lost son and when the son finally does come to his senses, the Father runs to greet him in the driveway.

        Notice the difference?

        The first two are about the Pharisees love of things. It is about their materialism and how happy they are upon gaining back even a little of their lost property. The parable of the lost sheep is not about Jesus searching for sinners at all. It is about how men rejoice on finding even a small bit of their possessions vs how heaven rejoices upon the repentance of the sinner. Further to this point, Jesus actually places the Pharisees in the role of the “99” as a backhanded way of granting their belief that they are the truly “righteous”. But of course, in the culminating parable, Jesus turns that around on them and places them in the metaphorical role of the angry and ungrateful older brother.

        Jesus makes a point that, unlike the Pharisees, the Father cares about PEOPLE not things.

        Ironically, as it relates to Asbury’s lyric, a major point of the story of the prodigal son is that the father does not “recklessly” go out in search of his son at all! He doesn’t even send a search party of his hired help to go find the prodigal. What’s up with that? Didn’t Jesus just say He would leave the 99 sheep alone and go out with reckless abandon to find just the one?

        No. we DID NOT just hear him say that.

        He said the PHARISEES would do that. This contrasts to God’s behavior which waits for us to return to Him, at which time he will forgive what we’ve done and welcome us back with open arms just as the father did with his prodigal son.

        But you see, Asbury ignores the point of these three parables because that would ruin his lyric.

        We know God will never leave or forsake us and yet Asbury is saying that God DOES do that because He is “reckless”.

        This is a false teaching and as long as Asbury continues to leave this heresy on the public stage, I will continue to consider it the heresy that it is.

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      • Hi Dan, you’ve called me a heretic so I will try to read your treatise and respond. It is very long. But let me ask you a question. What is your background? What denomination if you will? Are your Reformed? Armenian?

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  2. Charles,

    While God and his love are inseparable, men and their heresies can be. Just because you are defending a heretical set of teachings doesn’t mean you are a heretic and I didn’t label you as such.

    Questions:

    – Can God be separate from His behavior?
    – Can God leave and forsake us?
    – Can God commit sinful acts such as being reckless?

    Those are the heresies I am pointing out.

    I am a fundamentalist Christian. My exegetical approach to Scripture is similar to that of Chuck Missler so therefor, I am neither Armenian nor Calvinist.

    I have produced radio and television for conservative seminaries and teachers for the last 35 years and during that time I’ve sat on church elder boards and served on worship teams.

    I currently serve at a theologically conservative church.

    But regardless of my, or any Christian’s background, the answer to the three questions above determine whether one buys into a heresy or not.

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    • Well Dan typically I would delve in and argue my points but you are being offensive and judgmental and all based on having missed the point from the beginning.

      Yes you are fundamentalist. It’s interesting that you are very non-specific about who you are affiliated with and where you stand theologically. I’m guessing a once-saved-always saved believer. Not Pentecostal or Charismatic. But if you are eternal security but not Calvinist that’s actually a little weird right? Probably an anti-Bethel guy. I’m guessing anti-Pentecostal as well. Comparing your exegetical approach to Chuck Missler is irrelevant. You are not Chuck Missler so…

      Don’t misunderstand me it’s fine if you are those things but it explains a lot.

      Producing television shows has no bearing here. Serving on boards no bearing either.

      The word ‘conservative’ here doesn’t say much either.

      Your three questions do not even apply

      There is no “set of teachings” backing up the concept of reckless love. It is a way of describing God stopping at nothing (metaphorically) to reach us.

      The narrowness you have expressed is life-squelching and argumentative.

      This is just one of those arguments that serve no purpose in the end. However, I am happy to let your comments stand as they for any future readers.

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      • It saddens me when someone goes ad hominem instead of debating the issue.

        Charles, you’ve made it clear that you can’t defend Asbury’s lyric and choose instead to divert to a string of nonsensical statements about what my denominational affiliation may or may not be (I don’t have one today although the closest might be Conservative Baptist). You imagine that I have an opinion about Bethel (I have no opinion one way or the other about them except that they are promoting false teaching in “Reckless Love”.)

        The three questions I pose are at the core of this debate and yet you ignore them. This is disappointing.

        Asbury claims that God leaves us to recklessly chase after the unrepentant. This is FALSE. There isn’t a single Scripture verse that backs up this notion. Quite the opposite.

        Asbury’s song not only promotes false doctrine but is also internally illogical. It’s like a George Lucas film. It seems good the first time through until you think about it for a few minutes and realize it makes no sense and is full of plot holes.

        That said, I appreciate that you’re allowing my comments to stand. People need to better scrutinize the songs they sing in worship services.

        Dan

        P.S. you’re the one that asked about whether I was Armenian and I answered that with a specific frame of reference, which you dismissed. If you didn’t care, why ask in the first place?

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      • By the way, Dan, I explained my view of the concept in my original post and then my comment to you. Also, Asbury isn’t the originator of the concept.

        I’m willing to debate this with you if you will show any sign of being open to ideas other than the ones you hold. If you knew me and my credentials and the full body of my teachings and my thoughts you wouldn’t use the word heresy. However, I am Pentecostal through and through so I am guessing that our different way of looking at things begins there. Finally, if you are Baptist how can you not be Calvinist? Rare indeed.

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  3. Charles, I believe you too are an earnest Christian. But I am surprised that you think that it is possible for God to leave and forsake us as Asbury (and others think). People should NEVER build doctrine from a parable if their interpretation conflicts with the whole counsel of Scripture. When this happens it is 100% certain that their interpretation is wrong.

    Dozens of Scriptural references can be found to affirm that God would never leave us as Asbury says in his lyric.

    You may be offended by my use of the word heresy but I am even more offended that someone would write a popular worship song that tells people that God is so thoughtless and inconsiderate that he would abandon believers in a reckless pursuit of the wayward. There is ZERO Biblical support for this notion.

    It is a false teaching. Period.

    Dan

    P.S. As Chuck Missler explains, Calvinism and Armenianism are both correct in what they affirm but wrong in what they deny. There is middle ground.

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    • Where do you get the idea that anyone is say God would leave us and forsake us? That is such a misunderstanding of those lyrics. Now I do not care anything about defending Asbury or his sing. But you are simply building a straw man and knocking it down.

      All anyone is trying to say is that God’s love stops at nothing to reach the sinner. Of course He would stop at sin but anyone knows that. You’ve assumed that more was meant than was and you have gotten all stirred up about a claim that isn’t being made. I make it a point not to argue with people who do that. Be blessed Dan

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  4. I have never been comfortable with that word even though I get what Pastor is saying. In my opinion, if you are just starting your journey with Christ and hear that , it could easily be seen in an ungodly way. It seems that there are so many synonyms for the word including ” negligent, daredevil, unwise etc..” These do not describe our God. Maybe a better choice of words for a beautiful song!

    Liked by 1 person

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