Is God's Love 'Reckless?'


There's a new song making it's way into the repertoire of church worship liturgy. It's a song called "Reckless Love" written by Cory Asbury, Ran Jackson, and Caleb Culver. It's an important song for the time in history that we find ourselves ministering in; more important than I originally had thought. First, let me preface this post: The first time I heard this song, I disliked it very much. But, here I am today, and I can honestly say I love this song: to the point that I recorded my own version of it, and am now writing a blog to defend it from the most common criticism (though rare) that "God's love is not Reckless."

Let's start here: If I were to pick one word to describe God's love, I'd pick incomparable. Ephesians 3:18-19 says it beautifully:

18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Our understanding of Christ's love is limited in this world we live, and our ability to describe it is even more-so! Sometimes we have to (responsibly) search the outer bounds of metaphor and anthropomorphism in order to make the unfathomable understandable. You've probably heard the phrase "All elephants are grey, but not all grey things are elephants." So then, when using "grey" analogies in our worship songs, how do we walk the line between relegating God's characteristics to those terms as opposed to simply relating it to them. Because one thing is certain - God's love is no elephant.

I suppose using the verse above as a touchstone for such terms would be a good place to start. Can the word Reckless help us to "experience the Love of Christ" and better understand "how wide, how long, how high, and how deep" his Love is? I'd say yes, If three things are considered: Definition, Context, and Biblical representation. So, let's do that.

Definition

Reckless [rek-lis]

adjective

-utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution

Now that we have the definition, let's talk about context.

Context

When deciding whether or not a word is an apt description, it's good to put aside cultural biases for a moment at look directly at the meaning. Many people equate the word with negative uses such as "reckless driving," "reckless drinking," or "reckless lifestyle." but when we use the definition in place of the word it plays differently, depending on context:

"driving utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution"

"drinking utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution"

"living utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution"

These all play negative when put into this context. But what about these

"Giving, utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution"

"Serving, utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution"

"Loving, utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution"

When taking the term "Reckless Love" and looking at it in the context of the rest of the lyrics, it's clearly used in the positive sense of the word. The point of the song is that God went to great lengths to reach us, and though many of his actions would seem reckless to anyone else, I for one am a blessed recipient of hope, purpose, and grace because of it.

Let's look at some of those in Biblical context:

Biblical representation

Does God's display of love, in the person of Jesus, posses attributes of the word "Reckless" in the positive context of the usage? Here are some in-context examples, using the definition of the word:

Utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; God came as a helpless baby

Utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; Jesus left his parents for 3 days to speak to the religious leaders (Luke 2:45-49)

Utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; Jesus healed on the sabbath (Luke 13:10-17)

Utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple. (Matthew 21)

The list goes on, but you get the point.

So, the question I posed at the beginning of this post remains. Is God's love Reckless? No, it's not. But not all grey things are elephants. Does God love us Recklessly, and is the use of the word in the context of this song acceptable? Yes, I believe it is. While we were yet sinners, utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action, without caution, Christ died for us.

Good art stirs hearts. And this song has stirred my heart to worship Christ on several occasions. I pray after reading this, it moves you to do the same.

LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE


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