Love or hate it ‘Reckless Love’ divides opinion. Personally, I love it and sing it loud. It’s a sharp spur in my side, a worship song to remind me of how passionately God loves the world (including me) and calls me, and my church, to break out of our cautious, calculated comfort zones to join God in connecting with and reaching people who are truly ‘lost’.
Recently I spoke at a church’s leadership conference and asked how many had come into The Faith from ‘no church background’. One person tentatively raised his hand. I was genuinely astonished! How unconsciously and easily our church cultures become ‘cosy gold-fish bowls’ rather than weather-beaten fishing fleets, ready to cross waves and cut through storms to find the sort of catch Jesus pointed St Peter & Company to. Another telling analysis of how committed churches are to this ‘Reckless Love of God’ is ‘how much of our annual budgets are dedicated to outreach and sharing God’s Love beyond our congregation?’ I suspect that, in the cold light of Heaven, there will be a sober reckoning in regard to our stewardship of resources, especially in regard to how much money we stock-piled for a ‘rainy day’ and poured money into ancient buildings, no longer fit for purpose, rather than working and witnessing beyond our walls and circles.
I understand how some people get steamed up about ‘Reckless Love’, decrying it as a heretical, unbiblical and hazardous ‘worship weed’. Yes, God is Almighty, All-powerful, Always Present, All-knowing, All-Loving, Above-it-all, and any human traits like ‘recklessness’ can’t be used to adequately define or describe God. But God is also the One Who tells the prophet Hosea to marry and re-marry a prostitute to illustrate how unbelievable God’s Love and commitment to wayward Israel is. The One Who leaves the comfort of Heaven, shrinks to human foetus and is born in humble Bethlehem, with an animal feeding box for a bed. The One Who chooses to face conflict, controversy and walk straight into the hangman’s noose, indeed crucifixion (from which we get the word ‘excruciating’). Yes, from Heaven’s sovereign perspective, these movements of outreach are calculated and planned, but ‘on-the-ground’ I dare anyone to describe God’s Love as ‘Safe’.
Jesus tells the story of a shepherd, who leaves 99 sheep behind on the hill, to seek and save the one lost sheep. No crag, crevice, bush, river or rock is left unturned till he returns rejoicing, the stray sheep held securely around his neck. Jesus then tells the one about the ‘lost son’, who eventually returns to the delight of everyone, except big brother, who’s disgusted by the attention lavished on his ‘reckless’ wee brother. Jesus tells these stories to shake us out of complacency and get our focus off self-preservation onto God’s Mission Plan, ‘to seek and save the lost’.
I’ve a hunch that one reason some people don’t like ‘Reckless Love’ is personality. If you like to have all your t’s crossed and are a stickler for grammar and having all your ducks in a row, the suggestion that God is reckless with His Love may be anathema. I also appreciate that, the picture of God ‘kicking down doors and walls’ to get to you could unhelpfully suggest to some that God forces His way into our lives. Revelation 3:2’s image of Jesus standing at our door, knocking that we (church & people) might open up and let Him in, strongly suggests (as in Hollman Hunt’s famous painting ‘Light of The World’) that the handle of choice is on our side of the door. But, for me, it’s the dogged determination of God to ‘seek and save the lost’ of our world, that comes through in the song.
“And 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, yeah!”
(Cory Asbury / Bethel Music)
I also agree with the person who said, “FAITH is spelt R-I-S-K”