Let me start by saying, if there is a song that is naturally controversial, it is always safe not to sing it in a fellowship gathering. It will only bring division amongst the people. If you are not convicted of the same thoughts as what you will read below, that is fine, let every man be convinced in his own mind. Let us be at peace with all men. Blessings!
Let us see whether the hit song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury is biblically sound or not. It’s not very often that I take a second to dissect a song like this but this one has steered many into confusion. The phrase in question is “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” Does this phrase accurately describe the love of God? I have watched many videos and commentaries on why it is totally fine to sing in Church and I have even found comments with what verses allude to the fact that God is reckless in his love. However, the question is and always will be, does scripture as a whole back this up?
Before We Get Into The Lyrics
Regardless of the emotional attachment, one can form by listening to this song or the overwhelming sensation of love one might “experience”; making sure your songs line up 100% with scripture needs to take a priority. Too many times we find ourselves listening to songs absentmindedly and getting right into the emotional pull the musical instruments give off. There is a danger with simply accepting any song that comes through the radio waves simply because our favorite artist produced it. We can begin to ignorantly accept anything they say. Before you know it, you will have created a completely different theology in your own mind. Although, it may not be the intention of the artist to manipulate the people (then again, it may be) many times the artists themselves have been deceived by their own leaders. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into a path of spiritual blindness for the mere desire of entertainment.
God is searching for people who are willing to worship him in spirit and in truth. Scripture tells us that the words of Christ are spirit and Christ is the truth. So if we want to please God, we should represent his person and attributes according to the words of Christ, the Word. If we fail to do such, we will fall into the danger of committing treason against God in going after self worship. When we decide to follow a song and sing it regardless of whether it is biblically sound, we are now setting out to please ourselves and not God.
Going With The Flow
If you are part of a worship band or work at a radio station, the decision to play a song may first come with a sense of emotional pride, guilt, jealousy and peer pressure, especially when it is a new hit song produced by famous artists. Worship bands want to jump on the latest music chords and sounds while radio stations will grab the records as quickly as possible to advertise the number one hit songs. Every worship band wants to keep the latest and greatest in the weekly song cycle and so whatever is new within the praise and worship genre, that is what they will find. I have so many times found churches blindly take a song under their belt and not even think twice on the lyrics of the song. It isn’t for no reason that the scripture tell us to sing with the spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:15
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
What does it mean to sing with the spirit and to sing with the understanding also? What is the spirit that one can understand from and sing with? Well by definition to sing with something or someone is to sing along side it. That is to say that both you and the company must agree in the thing you are singing with. Christ told us what the spirit was so we could understand how to sing with it. In John 6:63, we read
…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Let’s Break It Down
As mentioned, the phrase in question is “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God” and more particularly, the word “reckless.” You can already imagine the controversy this song can carry with a word like this. Reckless isn’t a word that any average person would choose to refer to the all knowing, all powerful, total responsible God. It is beyond God’s character to be reckless with His actions. The word itself will give away the reasons why we should have never used this word to explain God’s love.
According to its definition, reckless is defined as “(of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action”. Now to apply this to the song: God’s love acts without thinking or caring about the outcome. As good as that may sound to our natural ears regarding the death of His son, the truth is that this is simply masked as a romantic phrase to captivate our emotions. Here are some synonyms for the word reckless: rash, heedless, incautious, negligent, imprudent and foolhardy. So we should be able to replace reckless with any of these words and still be fine with singing it to Him. Let’s test this out and see exactly how great God’s love can be: “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, negligent love of God”. It just doesn’t fit with who scripture says God is.
Not only does the song say that God’s love is reckless, (which by the way love isn’t just something God does, it’s in fact who He is. 1 John 4:8 …for God is love), it has also said that His reckless love is never-ending. The song describes a God with a never-ending recklessness or negligence and we are supposed to just accept this statement as truth?
What Does Scripture Say?
According to the song’s lyrics and the definition of the word “reckless” we are to believe that God did not care to think about His actions before He sent His son to die. Is it fair to believe that an all knowing God couldn’t have known the price of His actions? Based on the literal meaning of the word “reckless”, one who is reckless does not stop to consider anyone around them because of the lack of care they hold. To apply this attribute to God is to say that God is careless and inconsiderate. It is also stating that it would have been possible that the sacrifice of Christ could have taken a turn for the worst. Scripture lays out the mind of God in a different way.
1 Peter 1:19-20
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
The lamb who came to shed his own blood was foreordained before the foundation of the world. Thousands of years before King David was born, God thought out His plan and knew He would travel through the loins of King David. Before Mary was conceived God knew He was going to bring forth His son through a virgin woman. The entire old testament law is a shadow of the sacrifice of the lamb of God. God planned this whole thing out in perfect order and He knew without a shadow of a doubt that His plan was good.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
This passage can cleary show us that God’s love was part of a larger and perfect plan. God doesn’t seem to have spontaneous decisions made anywhere in scripture for us to think that His love is reckless. The word of God teaches us that He plans every action He makes by thinking them through and because He is perfect, any action God takes is perfect.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
We should never think of God as our reckless creator, our inconsiderate life giver, nor our negligent healer. God is a God of precious thoughts and a God of perfect ways. There are many ways to describe God but reckless isn’t one of them.