A Reckless Love

Church music has been a battleground for ages. I’m guessing that around 900 AD, the pipe organ was a new-fangled, risqué addition to services that caused every medieval curmudgeon to scowl at how the young people were trying to change things up. More recently, Cory Asbury’s ‘Reckless Love’ has sparked a bit of debate among believers.

In case the song is new to you, here are its basic bones:

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

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

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

There’s no shadow You won’t light up, mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down, lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

The idea of God’s love being reckless has rubbed some people the wrong way. Scripture teaches control and order and restraint and self-discipline, so I can kind of understand where they’re coming from. (I still personally love the song, but I do see both sides.)

Merriam-Webster defines reckless as “marked by lack of proper caution; careless of consequences.”

According to Revelation 13:8, the outcome of the Lamb’s slaughter was planned from before time began. Jesus was so conscious of His impending sacrifice that He sweat drops of blood in the garden, soul grieved to the point of death. This doesn’t sound like carelessness; it smacks of premeditation and power.

But hallelujah, it doesn’t sound much like self-preserving logic, either. In the sense that Christ took up the greatest risk, squarely facing the wrath of God, His love was determined, unbridled, furious, relentless, and reckless. There is nothing He wouldn’t do to have us. The religious rulers hated Him because He refused to be controlled, and when He rose victorious on the best Sunday ever, even death bowed low in recognition of His wild reign. Our Lion of Judah is no tame Lion, though He embodies goodness in a billion senses, and we reap every benefit. How could this cease to floor us?

Recklessness is scary because it feels unsafe. Yet if protecting you is what caused the King of Hosts to lose Himself in the rush of God’s fury, what is there left possibly to fear? That’s the whole point of Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” Paul points to this audacious love as a promise. Jesus doesn’t risk foolishly. But He put everything—everything—on the line for us in a way we can’t fully comprehend until we’re gathered around the throne, singing holy, holy, holy with an eternity of pure joy set before us because of those precious scars.

I don’t think this recklessness vs thoughtfulness debate requires an either/or solution. The Son’s willingness to lay Himself down on our behalf is the brightest, most magnificent culmination of both intense self-control and reckless abandon ever to slam the surface of the world. May we never stop being overwhelmed by such a great love that chases, climbs, fights, and sings, all to draw us near. He really has been so, so kind to us.

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