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4 Reasons Why God’s Love is Reckless (Plus 1 Reason Why It’s Not)

4 Reasons Why God’s Love is Reckless (Plus 1 Reason Why It’s Not)

4 Reasons Why God’s Love is Reckless (Plus 1 Reason Why It’s Not)

Bethel Music worship leader, Cory Asbury released the song, Reckless Love, back in September 2017, and it reached #1 in only 7 weeks on the Christian Music Billboard chart. Reckless Love has remained on that chart, ranking either #1 or #2 for months now. The public loved it, but a few people freaked out, and listeners began to wonder: Is God’s love really reckless?

RelevantMagazine.com reported on one theologian’s answer. “Pentecostal theologian Andrew K. Gabriel’s answer is no. Reckless, he says, is not an accurate way to describe God or God’s love. Gabriel writes:

‘I searched for the meaning of “reckless,” and Almighty Google tells me that “reckless” describes someone who acts “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” I tried the more respectable Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, and, similarly, it defines reckless as “marked by lack of proper caution: careless of consequences” and even as “irresponsible.” I don’t think too many Christians would like to say that God is “careless” or that God’s love doesn’t “care about consequences.” Instead, God loves us with the clear and thoughtful intention …’”

It is good and important that worship leaders are held accountable to the songs they lead us in singing, because we don’t want to worshipfully meditate and sing about things that are not true. But we also don’t want to dismiss or condemn a worship song for using language creatively instead of traditionally.

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Should we sing "Reckless Love" in church?

Should we sing "Reckless Love" in church?

Using the word “reckless” as a positive idea in a worship song isn’t entirely new. In 2013, Jeremy Camp’s song, “Reckless,” led Christian drivers to belt out: “I wanna be reckless, I wanna be changed…” Although Camp’s reckless was describing himself, not the love of God, it was still used creatively. 

Brian Wahl and Brian Fuller, worship leaders and hosts of the YouTube channel, Worship Tutorials, talked about the controversy from a worship leader perspective in their video, “Should we sing Reckless Love in our churches? Is God reckless?”

“If you take issue with this song from a theological standpoint or you don’t want to sing it in your church, that is okay. This is not a hill worth dying on,” Wahl said.

“If you don’t want to sing it, don’t sing it,” Fuller added. “I think the challenge that we’re facing is not a theological question. I think it’s the limitations of the human language and the ability of us as people and artists to communicate a concept that mysterious and grand and holy. So no matter what we say, we’re gonna fail.”

Another worship leader, Joshua Dunn, took a stronger stance against singing the song in church in his article, “4 Reasons Why God Can Never be Reckless.”

Asbury’s use of the word reckless in this song is certainly creative, if not provocative. Because reckless doesn’t usually carry positive connotations in our modern conversations. We pray for our reckless family members and even lock-up extremely reckless people in prisons. It’s just not seen as a good thing.

So why would we sing to God in praise that his love is reckless? Well, maybe it is. And maybe reckless love is the kind of love that Christians should show others more often.

Here are four reasons why God’s love for his people is reckless, plus one reason why it’s definitely not.

Just a note: This isn’t an article meant to make you feel unlovable. Rather, it’s meant to stoke affection for God and to inspire awe at his love for his people. 

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1. Because our love for Him is fickle.

1. Because our love for Him is fickle.

God’s love for his people is reckless in that he chooses us for relationship with him at all. Most times, our love for him is fickle. It depends on our mood, how much sleep and food we had that day, and what we notice he’s done for us lately. We’re just not great partners for a holy covenant.

God’s love endures forever,” Psalm 136:1b. The rest of the Psalm repeats this phrase 26 times with specific reasons proving that his love endures forever. And endure is a perfect word to describe it because you don’t endure easy things or pleasant things. You endure painful things.

God was good to his people, Israel, by listening to their prayers and setting them free from seemingly endless slavery in Egypt. But slavery started to look like a better option to them once they saw the harshness of the desert. God knew their needs, and he provided them with food and guidance. Israel was thankful for a moment, but their love for God turned fickle when he took too long on the mountain with Moses. So they decided to build their own god. They worshipped a golden statue and said, “this is the thing that set us free from Egypt!

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Enduring pain and fickle affection.

Enduring pain and fickle affection.

God’s love endured that pain.

Later generations of Israel further show the fickle love that God’s people had for him. Throughout the book of Judges, Israel cycles through abandoning God, returning to him, then back to worshipping other gods.

One of the definitions of reckless that bothered Gabriel, the Pentecostal theologian, was: “marked by lack of proper caution: careless of consequences.”

Well, God choose to love his people and keep walking with them despite the likely consequences. They’ve rejected him a few times already, and he knew they would do it again. He knew his heart was in for more pain. Proper caution might have suggested that God abandon or destroy these fickle people and find better devotees. But God didn’t care about proper caution. Instead, his reckless love endured.

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2. Because it’s not a good bargain for him.

2. Because it’s not a good bargain for him.

God’s love for us is reckless in that he showed his love for us,“while we were still sinners,” Romans 5:8. Maybe you could describe that as a calculated investment: God’s love will change the sinner into a worshipper, which will leave him with a solid return on his investment. But loving people is still not really a good bargain for God. Why?

Because our love for God will never match his love for us. Even in our most faithful seasons of honoring God and seeking him wholeheartedly, he is still completely holy and worthy of complete worship. Although he deserves and demands our love, he knows that we can’t love him back in the same way. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust,” Psalm 103:14. God loves because God is love. And that’s a reason to sing in awe and gratitude of his generous love.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins,” 1 John 4:10.

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3. Because it’s irresponsible.

3. Because it’s irresponsible.

Another icky word that Gabriel notices in Merriam-Webster’s definition of reckless is, “irresponsible.”  This may be a distasteful view of God’s love at first, but let’s take deeper look into his Word. The biblical story of Hosea and Gomer shows just how irresponsible God’s love is for his people. The story starts off with some terrible advice given to a God-fearing man, Hosea. And he takes it.

When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.’ So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son,” Hosea 1:2-3.

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An allegory for God's love.

An allegory for God's love.

In Proverbs 23: 27-28, a good father warns his son about women exactly like Gomer. “An adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well. Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men.”

Proverbs was written before Hosea was alive and looking for a wife, so he should have known how dangerous and irresponsible it would be to marry an openly unfaithful woman. But because Hosea obeyed God’s strange command, we now have this powerful allegory for God’s relationship with his unfaithful people. God’s love for us, like Hosea’s love for his wife, looks irresponsible and reckless to an outsider looking in. To us and to Gomer, it looks like incredible grace. 

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4. Because God calls his people to love recklessly.

4. Because God calls his people to love recklessly.

This kind of reckless love that Asbury sings about is something Christians should consider aspiring to. Christ leads us in the recklessness of denying ourselves for the glory of God and the good of others. Like the Good Samaritan. He loved his neighbor beyond what was beneficial to himself, and Jesus said to, “go and do likewise,” Luke 10: 37.

Some may look at pastors, missionaries, and other’s living out the gospel mission; and they see those lives as odd, irresponsible, and even reckless. But we know the truth. The love of the God they serve – that’s reckless. They’re just doing their best to love him back.

Maybe you don’t want to call God’s love reckless, and that’s fine. But can you see why some people do – why they weep when they sing about it?

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1 Reason God’s Love is Not Reckless: Because it’s 100% intentional.

1 Reason God’s Love is Not Reckless: Because it’s 100% intentional.

Here’s the promised reason why God’s love for us is not reckless: His love is intentional and purposeful.  I think we can agree that God’s love is oftentimes too big to fit into words. Like Brian Fuller said, it’s difficult for, “us as people and artists to communicate a concept that mysterious and grand and holy.”

God is a complex being, and we as believers get to spend eternity getting to know the depths of his heart. While on this side of eternity though, we must be okay with some amount of mystery. God was careful to only show Moses a small portion of his glory, and Jesus chose his words very carefully to teach us earthly people heavenly things because we can handle only so much.

But God is knowable, even to us now. That’s why he set the rescue plan of Jesus Christ in motion.

Loving humans with fickle and unfaithful hearts is a risky thing for God to do. We might not love him back, and we’ll often forget and question that he loves us at all. But God chose to take the risk and love everyone anyway. He knew exactly what he was getting into because he knows us and sees us for who we are.

In that way, God’s love is not reckless at all.

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Cory Asbury's experience of God's reckless love:

Cory Asbury's experience of God's reckless love:

Even before Asbury released Reckless Love to the public, he was getting questions about this strange phrase. So he posted a short explanation of what God’s love means to him and why it looked so reckless. Here's a portion of the post:

“Many have asked me for clarity on the phrase, ‘reckless love.’ Many have wondered why I’d use a “negative” word to describe God. His love isn’t cautious. No, it’s a love that sent His Own Son to die a gruesome death on a cross. There’s no ‘Plan B’ with the love of God. He gives His heart so completely, so preposterously, that if refused, most would consider it irreparably broken. Yet He gives Himself away again. The recklessness of His love is seen most clearly in this – it gets Him hurt over and over. Make no mistake, our sin pains His heart. And ‘70 times 7’ is a lot of times to have Your heart broken. Yet He opens up and allows us in every time. His love saw you when you hated Him – when all logic said, ‘They’ll reject me,’ He said, ‘I don’t care if it kills me. I’m laying My heart on the line.’To get personal, His love saw me, a broken down kid with regret as deep as the ocean; My innocence and youth poured out like water. Yet, He saw fit to use me for His kingdom because He’s just that kind. I didn’t earn it and I sure as heck don’t deserve it, but He’s just that good. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”

You can read the full Facebook post here

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Listen for yourself.

Listen for yourself.

Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

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