My youngest daughter recently sent me a youtube video of a song called, “Reckless Love,” which is written to describe how God pursues each of us through His love. If you are a parent who has ever quoted the verse, “Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it,” then this is a song that you should listen to. It will lift your faith in God because He pursues all who are away from Him to bring them back into relationship.

It is easy for us to focus on the word “reckless” and say that this word cannot possibly describe God in any way. At first glance, the dictionary definition seems to confirm this thinking since “reckless” is not a good descriptive word for God. It is defined as “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action,” providing the example of  “reckless driving” which is clearly a careless act.

God is certainly not “careless” but actually the exact opposite. “He cares for us” so much that He will go to any extreme to reach us, which is the heart of the song, Reckless Love. Verse 1 highlights how God created us and gives us life. Verse 2 focuses on how God redeems us, despite the fact we were His enemies and rebellious in our sinfulness. The chorus focuses on how incredible it is that God loves us and pursues us.

The biblical basis for the song is Luke 15 which contains 3 parables: the lost son (or the prodigal), the lost sheep and the lost coin. Think how “reckless” it was for the father to receive with open arms his son who had squandered his inheritance.  He did not care about the consequences of what other people thought of this act of love. Same thing with the parable of the lost sheep. Why would a shepherd not care about the safety of the 99 to go find the one?  The shepherd was a little reckless … without thinking or caring about the consequences of leaving the flock, he recklessly drove to save the one that was lost.

Is this really any different than the song “Amazing Grace?” The language of that time speaks of “saving a wretch like me” which is picture of reaching out to someone who “once was lost, but now am found.” The message of “Reckless Love” focuses on God reaching to us in much the same way as through Amazing Grace. The important issue here is not how this new song compares to an older song, but rather the biblical support the author was inspired by to write it.

If Luke 15 isn’t sufficient, look at 1 Cor. 1:18 where Paul writes: “The word of the cross seems foolishness to those who are are on the way to destruction; but to us … it is the power of God.” The word “foolishness” is easily comparable to “reckless,” which can be seen as one way to describe how God extends His love to humanity.

Here is an excerpt from what the author of the song, Cory Asbury, says:

“When I use the phrase, “the reckless love of God”, I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. What I mean is this: He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being. His love isn’t crafty or slick. It’s not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it’s quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return.”

What an interesting perspective. I am not sure you can bankrupt heaven, but I get the point: “God gave his only son.” As a parent, I want the Reckless Love of God to relentlessly pursue my children with the goal of drawing them back to Himself. For that matter, when I myself am distant in my relationship with my Creator, I trust He would “recklessly” leave the ninety-nine to seek after me. This song truly displays the message of redemption, which is the ultimate message of the church. I truly cannot understand how a church would not have this song as part of their worship service.

I will admit that the word “reckless” in reference to God’s love does push the boundaries a little but the whole point of the song is exactly that … His love reaches beyond any barrier. Isn’t that the whole point of John 3:16? Isn’t that a reckless expression of God “coming after me,” as the song says?

Please watch the video:

 

 

22 thoughts on “Is God’s Love Reckless?

  1. How far do we stretch theology and biblical soundness just to substantiate and give credibility to a ‘hit’ song. Comparing this song to amazing Grace. Really?

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    1. I am not sure this is a stretch in theology, even though it may be for some. The comparison of the song to Amazing Grace came to mind because of the overlap between God’s character of grace and love. Both grace and love reach out to prodigals in a similar manner, to not only seek and find, but to accept once found despite that person’s failures. “To save a wretch like me” is very similar to, “I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you give yourself away …” That sounds like Amazing Grace to me.

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  2. Hi Lorne,

    I know that when we write something and put it out there, we really want the positive feedback, but I just can’t follow you on this road. I believe there are some serious errors in your writing here and I hope that I don’t offend in giving a counter-argument.

    – On the topic of the lost sheep: The point of Christ’s parable was that the ninety-nine sheep were safe. They represent the “saved” sheep. There was no recklessness in leaving them alone because, as Christ puts it, they are the “ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Those sheep are good. They’re safe.

    – On the topic of the father of the prodigal son: In the story of the prodigal son, everyone rejoiced, except for one. The older brother was the ONLY person who saw His father as being reckless, and it was motivated by jealousy. Everyone else rejoiced. I’m not sure we are to desire to be like the older son.

    – Your reference to Luke 15: This is where I have a serious objection with your usage of scripture. You wrote, “If Luke 15 isn’t sufficient, look at 1 Cor. 1:18 where Paul writes: “The word of the cross seems foolishness to those who are are on the way to destruction; but to us … it is the power of God.” The word “foolishness” is easily comparable to “reckless,” which can be seen as one way to describe how God extends His love to humanity.”

    In the 1 Corinthian passage, who are the ones that the word of the cross seems foolish (or as you put it, reckless)? Those who “are on the way to destruction”. Are you on the way to destruction? If not, then why would you see the cross as foolish, or reckless. Wouldn’t you be one of the ones who sees the cross as “the power of God”?

    – Cory Asbury’s excerpt: I agree with you, that I’m not sure God bankrupted heaven for us. Heaven is filled with the glory of God and to bankrupt Heaven would imply that God was no longer God. The major theological divide I find behind this song is when Asbury said, “His love doesn’t consider Himself first.”

    My question to Cory is this, “Why does God do anything”? The answer is that He does all things for His glory. His love for humanity and creation is really about revealing His own glory. He considers Himself first because He is the root that everything else must draw from. He reconciled us, not just for our own sake, but for His glory. We also see this in Christ’s narrative in the garden of Gethsemane. Christ never says anything in the gospels about going through His calling as Messiah as anything other than, “the will of the Father who sent me”. Christ’s mission was God’s glory. It’s why Jesus asked that “the cup be taken from me”. No matter how much Christ loved you and me, He didn’t want to climb on the cross. It wasn’t Christ’s love for us that compelled Him to climb on the cross, it was obedience to God, seen in His statement, “Not my will, but Yours be done”.

    It is because of this that, where the world may see a foolish (reckless) God, we do not. We see a powerful/intentional God. I believe to associate God as reckless is to see Him the way the unbeliever would see Him, not as intentional, holy, and omnipotent.

    I know that was long, and I appreciate any time you gave to reading through. My email was given, and, if you have time, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Honestly, the tune keeps finding it’s way into my head and I really want to like this song, but I just cannot grab ahold of the theology.

    In Christ

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    1. Hi Michael,
      Certainly no offence taken on my part and I welcome the conversation. Let me respond:

      -On the topic of the lost sheep – I agree the Ninety-nine were safe, but the shepherd leaving them is not without risk as it then leaves an opportunity for an attack in his absence. This means the shepherds love has to be calculated, he must choose to leave the herd unguarded for a time to pursue the one, which does involve the risk of attack when he is not there to protect, so in that sense “reckless.” The point though is that the shepherd is not reckless, but his love for the one lost could be viewed that way.

      -On the Prodigal Son- The older son has issues of jealousy, as you pointed out, but unfortunately he represents many who are inside the fold, already in the church, who may have an improper view of the father’s love. We obviously do not desire to be like the elder son, but there are many in the church like him who need to understand that God loves them and desires to embrace them in the same way the father embraces the prodigal son.

      -Reference to 1 Cor. 1:18 – You are correct about those “on the way to destruction” as viewing the cross as foolishness. I see the cross as “power of God” that can rescue any that are away from the Father’s love. Therefore the foolishness of the cross has the power to rescue those who think it foolish. So the viewpoint changes when a person is impacted by the cross. What was once viewed as foolish becomes the power to save. I find it amazing that God is able to take what appears to us as “foolish things … to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 1:25).

      -Cory Asbury’s exerpt – God may do things for His glory, but that is not his only motivation. John 3:16 clearly shows his desire to rescue man, but that is not actually separate from His glory. When we believe in him, the angels in heaven rejoice (Luke 15:10), so that actually does bring glory to God. It’s interesting to read Heb. 2:10 – part of God’s purpose is fulfilled “in bringing many sons to glory.” Jesus himself said “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” which indicates it was not only obedience but his love for us that led Him to the cross.

      I am not trying to say that God is in any way reckless, and I don’t believe Asbury is saying God is reckless either. The song is about God’s love reaching beyond any barrier to rescue us. That can be viewed as reckless by some (obviously Asbury being one of them), but the challenge is the word has a negative connotation. That is why it stretches our thinking and maybe why the song has been so impactful. I see it as God’s willingness to go to any length to reach us, and that’s Amazing Grace.

      Ultimately the song lifts up the love of God, ministers His love and extends grace. I believe it is healthy to have these discussions about our theology. We need to know what we believe and why we believe it.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it.

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      1. – I’m not sure you understood my point about the 99 sheep. They are the righteous. They could be attacked all day long, but their standing before God is clean. They are in no danger of losing their salvation. The lost sheep is not safe. There is no risk of the shepherd in leaving the 99. They are saved. The enemy can attack all day, but they are covered in salvation. No risk.

        – I’m still trying to understand how God and His love can be separated. Love is a verb, an expression of the one doing the loving, and therefore cannot be characterized as reckless, or prudent, or any other active adjective. Those words are delegated for the one doing the loving because it is the one doing the loving that has intent. If I said, “You displayed prudent love”, am I saying that the love was prudent, or the person doing the love was prudent. Clearly, the person is the one who is prudent because love is only the expression of the one doing the loving. Love, cannot be reckless, only God, in this song, is described as being reckless.

        – Is it possible for someone to be reckless if they already know every angle and ending of a decision? They may appear reckless, but are they actually reckless? I do not believe so. If you know every outcome of your decision, then the only logical conclusion is that your decisions are thoroughly thoughtful and carefully planned. This is why I brought up your commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:18. If we are the saved, and therefore see the cross as the power of God, why would/should WE sing a song that appears to equate His love and actions as reckless (foolish)? If you see the cross as the power of God, and not foolishness, then why would YOU sing this song? It is not the unsaved singing this song in churches, it is the saved…the righteous. The righteous should not be, in effect, praising the recklessness (foolishness) of God. What message does that send to the unbeliever? When an atheist hears that we believe God’s love is reckless, will that not only serve to confirm their beliefs that Christians are completely irrational? I would imagine that an atheist hearing Christians sing about God’s reckless love, in light of the Florida shootings, would only turn further from God.

        – In short, I am saying that I agree that God has overcome the most difficult barrier to demonstrate His love for us, but it wasn’t recklessly done. I love what this song is trying to convey. However, I partially disagree with you on one point towards the end of your response. You said, “I see it as God’s willingness to go to any length to reach us”. I don’t think that is an accurate statement. God doesn’t go to any length, He went to one length. The implication of going to ‘any length’ is that there are multiple ways to reconciliation of God and man. Hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ arrival, we see through prophecy that God already knew what was to happen. Once again, prophecy detailing the coming, the death and the resurrection of Christ shows us no hint of recklessness, but singular planning and intention.

        God Bless

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      2. Hi Michael,

        As I read Luke 15, the 99 have certainly are secure but it doesn’t mean they are eternally secure. While the shepherd searches for the one sheep the 99 are obviously more vulnerable to attack than when the shepherd is present.

        God is love and therefore cannot be separated from His acts of love. The bottom line is the struggle is with the word “Reckless” but we might be OK using the word limitless to describe God and His love. I remember singing the song in church with these lines: “His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundaries known unto to man.” That sounds very much like the song: “Reckless Love” and describes how God’s reach to mankind knows no boundaries. Seeing God as reckless is a stretch for our theology, yet limitless is acceptable.

        Let’s face it our perspective is human after all, it is not Divine, therefore God’s acts can certainly appear to be reckless to us, yet in God’s eyes they may actually be prudent acts. Why sing a song like this? I would say because it helps build my faith. There are people in churches around the world with family and friends that are needing to be touched by God’s love and they may have prayed for them for many years. Hearing the words to this song can help their unbelief. The righteous should be praising God for His expressions of love for it is the very acts of kindness that leads people to repentance. Placing God in a higher place will draw men to Him.

        What I meant by going to “any length to reach us” was by no means saying there are multiply ways to be reconciled to God. There is only One Way and that is through Christ. What I was meaning was an example like God using a burning bush to speak to Moses, a donkey to speak top Balaam, or blindness to transform Saul to Paul. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It seems the reality is we see God and His acts of love from a human perspective, and that can make all the difference. He sees the end from beginning, but our sight is so limited.

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  3. I look at this song from the view of an unbeliever visiting your church for the first time. How will we reach him by describing God’s love as reckless. If I knew nothing about the Bible and heard a church referring to God’s love as reckless I would be shaking my head wondering what that is all about. I examine all songs and lyrics from the view of a non-believing first time visitor and I’m sorry but this song does nothing in reaching out to me.

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    1. Hi Craig,

      Thanks for your response. I have a question: how can you put yourself in the place of an unbeliever, to the point that you understand what they need? The truth is God will go to any length to reach people, believer or unbeliever, we all need His love. Many believe they are beyond God’s reach and His love, as expressed in this song demonstrates that his love his limitless. To say His love is not reckless is to limit His love and we cannot do that.

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  4. I agree with Michael. I just heard the song for the first time this afternoon and needed to make some sense of why the term “reckless” seems so wrong when we speak of our all-knowing, omnipotent God. I think the biblical support is weak for “reckless” though I do agree that God’s wonderful love for us (through Jesus) is certainly
    unfathomable! It strikes me that the “composer” is purposely using a controversial term for the effect. I hope my church does not sing this song.

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    1. Andrea, I do agree that the author of the song is likely purposely using the term “reckless” for effect and it certainly has been effective. If you think about it we would not even be conversing with one another without the song being written. It saddens me to know that you would not desire to sing this song and even hope your church doesn’t sing it. I have recently visited a couple of churches, one in Washington, D.C. and another in Tampa, Florida and I was moved top tears on both occasions as this song was sung. It ministered to me in a way that I struggle to explain, but simply to say I have family members who are not as close to God in relationship as I would like to see them. This song gives me hope, which is the heart of God. When I hear: “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.” When it seems impossible that my loved ones can be reached this song helps me realize God’s love is still seeking them and I need to continue to trust Him, because He relentlessly pursues them.

      The fact is God is “limitless” which means he has no boundaries to hold Him back from reaching those who are lost. It’s disappointing to see churches who won’t sing it because most if not all churches are filled with people who have family like mine and they are praying for the boundless, or may I say reckless love of God to reach them.

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      1. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in regards to the comments given by many. There are many points you’ve given that I agree with, like how this song’s main message is God’s unfathomable love for sinful man. I think the main hang-up many have is something you actually pointed out, the word “reckless”. There is literally no other usage of the reckless that I have ever read or seen that uses this word in a mildly positive light. Instead of using words that do portray God’s love with positive connotations, such as limitless, or powerful, or unfathomable, or relentless, Asbury chose a word that is always used negatively.

        Just a quick thesaurus search of the word reckless says this: “Irresponsible in thought, deed”.

        Listed synonyms: brash, carefree, careless, foolhardy, hasty, ill-advised, imprudent, negligent and thoughtless. The only two other potentially positive synonyms include audacious (which implies that God takes risks, which I’ve stated as not possible because He already knows all outcomes), and daring (which is also not possible for God to be, being omnipotent and omniscient).

        For me, and it seems many others, there is no way to reconcile any of these synonyms as descriptors for God. I don’t see this as man’s inability to adequately have words to describe God’s amazing and awesome love, as much as it is man’s lack of appropriately understand the English language. That sounds really harsh once I read it through, but I honestly don’t see any other way around it. “Reckless” simply is an inappropriate description of God and His perfect love.

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      2. Just as unclean lepers could not make Jesus unclean, what some “purists” consider as “negative” words have no effect on His glory.

        Rather Jesus can use this “negative” word to move people to humbly and genuinely thank God, which is exactly what’s happening. What’s even more amazing is how the song can also teach people to love others recklessly for the sake of the gospel.

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  5. First off, let me say I very much enjoyed the thoughtful and educated responses in these comments. You all make such great arguments. I just wanted to add to the conversation on how I, as a passionate follower of God, received this song.
    The lyrics paint such a vibrant picture of God’s love for us. The way the Asbury melodically lists the extended lengths the Father takes to pursue His people illustrates the song’s intentions: to sing of how God’s overwhelming love for us. The imagery of kicking down walls, climbing up mountains, tearing down lies, it all is to show us the intensity in God’s pursuit. It invokes a PASSIONATE response in those who have experienced God’s mercy. I believe that due to that passionate response the “reckless” adjective becomes understandable.

    I think it’s the same as saying His love is “overwhelming.” The song is about how God’s love feels in our redeemed hearts. It’s not about being able to fully define the Love of God, (which we’re unable to do anyway), it’s about expressing the way God’s love impacts our souls. It doesn’t make sense to us. Does that mean that God doesn’t make sense, that He’s irrational? Not at all. It’s clear throughout the Bible that God has a beautiful appreciation for His people singing their passion out to Him, and this song is no different.

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    1. I agree Amber, I think using the work reckless is one way to try and express the extend of God’s love which of course cannot really be measured. The limits of His love is really unreachable with our human intellect, but it continues to extend to us. You expressed the imagery well, “kicking down walls, climbing up mountains and tearing down lies” … “coming after me.” Thanks for adding your comments.

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  6. This term reckless is a word with a negative and derogatory meaning, which does not in any way shape or form represent God. I have asked countless people to show me scripture to support this song. All I have received are the same stories that the artist provided. I still consider myself a new believer (4 years) and I have always be vigilante of the movements in following Jesus. The only scriptures I have found that use reckless are directed towards us as humans and sinners and scripture says not to be reckless. So why would I just dismiss scripture for a catchy song? Are we as believers told not to add or take away from the Bible? It is appalling to me that so many people who consider themselves experts on the Bible are so easily fooled by something so simple. Is reckless ever used to describe God in scripture? Then why do people just concede to letting this word stand? The 99 are saved! Just as stated by Michael above, if they are saved, then please explain how God is reckless. This is how it starts. One simple word, one manipulation of scripture and before you know it everyone is following the signs and wonders movement. This artist is from Bethel, which should cause anyone to pause and consider the intent. He only created his video to explain his intent after people questioned it. Yet his explanation is still scripturally unfounded, yet people just compromise and say it’s not that big of a deal or “well everyone interprets things differently.” I didn’t realize that it is okay to twist scripture to fit how we want to live and feel. I believe we are warned about that as well. Seems like to me people are more concerned about making the Bible fit their lives versus living to fit into what God laid out for us in his word. The signs and wonders movement, the prosperity movement, the NAR, etc are all false teachings. Narrow is the gate! I very much want to one day find the gate, which is not easy, and hope to be accepted. I also need to protect my family and we will not listen to this song or anything from Bethel. Many will come, but few will pass. I tend to think this is a slippery slope to much more sinister theology. I want nothing to do with it.

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    1. I am absolutely amazed at the number of believers who are hung up on the word reckless and think they can put God in a box. I have given an example of how scripture can support this song in my second blog on the song Reckless Love: https://word4now.com/2018/03/23/is-gods-love-reckless-part-ii/

      Read the book of Hosea and how God instructs His servant to marry a whore. Reckless means being unconcerned about the consequences and God instructed Hosea to marry Gomer, without consideration of the prophets reputation at all. He asked Hosea to do this to illustrate exactly how he loved His people, Israel, who had prostituted themselves. Our actions many times can easily be compared to the nation of Israel and God continues to love us and reach out for us and will stop at nothing to redeem us.

      Consider the story of Gideon, he started with an army of 32,000 and God said, “the people are too many” and went on to reduce the army to 300. Maybe you should ask Gideon if he considered God a little reckless to have this army go into battle with a 1:450 ratio. That means every man in Gideon’s army was facing 450 fierce warriors. Obviously we know the outcome but we need to recognize that our understanding is limited. God knows the end from the beginning which I think makes it pretty impossible for Him to actually act recklessly. However, from our human perspective it can certainly appear reckless, as I believe it did for Gideon. This is in no way “twisting Scripture” as you put it.

      When I read the latter part of your message it reminded me of the disciples who came to Jesus saying, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” I completely understand where you are coming from though, I see so much out there that I just cannot agree with theologically. However, I endeavour to follow the advise of Jesus: “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:49-50). God left judgement to His son and we would do well to do the same. Stop judging others, they may very well be wrong, but He is the judge.

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      1. It comes down to a simple understanding of the definition of the word reckless. At every turn I hear people say that Asbury is trying to describe God’s “unfathomable” love, or His “overwhelming” love. None of those are synonyms of the word reckless.

        Synonyms for reckless include words like: rash, careless, thoughtless, heedless, hasty, impulsive, daredevil, irresponsible, foolhardy, ill-advised, I’ll-considered, etc.

        Lorne, would you ever use these words to describe our Savior?

        You said it yourself: “God knows the end from the beginning which I think makes it pretty impossible for Him to actually act recklessly.”

        So what we are singing in not truth about God, but a truth about man’s flawed perspective. But we are not acknowledging that it is sinful man’s flawed perspective. The song communicates that God’s love IS reckless, as though it is truth about God.

        Which in turn contradicts your own statement that it is “pretty impossible for [God] to act recklessly”.

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  7. Michael, I think perspective is the key. When Asbury writes and sings using the term “Reckless Love,” it is obviously from his own perspective. Every song that is written is from a given perspective that is human and therefore flawed. From his perspective he is able to see God’s love, maybe even the actions God Himself as reckless, but your theology does not permit you to see it that way. That is totally fine, but why is it necessary to condemn his expression of worship just because you cannot see that perspective. My point is simply this: our human perspective can sometimes allow us to view God’s activity as reckless, even though it may not actually be reckless from the perspective of the Almighty.

    I have heard another song recently that repeats: “the cross has the final word” which in my opinion is completely flawed theology. We have just celebrated Easter and clearly the empty tomb, the resurrected Christ has the final word. This song has a flawed theology, at least in my opinion, but the interesting thing is that as flawed as I may see that song, God still has an ability to use it to minister to people.

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  8. Hi, Lorne. I have so appreciated reading everyone’s comments here regarding the popular song “Reckless Love”. I personally love the song. (We just sang it Sunday, in fact.)

    I will admit though that the word ‘reckless’ has always bothered me. I don’t like using a word with a negative connotation in a worship song. I think Asbury may have chosen the word more for its shock value than anything. It kind of wakes up the singer and gives him pause. Did we just say God’s love is reckless? Hey, wait a minute. Thus, controversy ensues, theological arguments arise, and questions about the songwriter’s intent come into play.

    I love the song’s lyrics and the powerful message they convey, but I belive it would have had as much, or even more, impact had he substituted the word reckless with WONDROUS.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing and I certainly agree, the shock value was likely the reason. Well it worked. I also thought of the word MATCHLESS; there are certainly other words that could easily fit. Then again, we may not be talking about it as much then. Maybe the important part to understand is that we couldn’t earn it and don’t deserve, yet we are recipients of His great love and grace!

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