Category Archives: God

Is God’s Love Reckless?

Since its rise to popularity, Cory Asbury’s worship ballad “Reckless Love” has earned Asbury multiple Dove awards, has well over one hundred million YouTube views, and has been a mainstay in the top 10 worship songs used in churches (according to CCLI). But it has not been without controversy, and rightly so.
The song gets its title from the opening line of the chorus, which says, “O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God…”
According to Merriam-Webster, the word ‘reckless’ means…
 1 : marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences
 2 : irresponsible
Is this truly a word we want to associate with the love of God?
Synonyms include daredevil, foolhardy, hell-for-leather, and kamikaze.
These are not exactly positive associations for a word being used to describe what is commonly considered one of God’s premier attributes.
Through the centuries, English-speaking preachers and songwriters have used numerous adjectives to seek to describe the love of God… amazing, beautiful, captivating, enduring, great, indescribable, marvelous, pure, sanctifying, satisfying, wonderful, and so many more. But prior to this song, seeking to find a Christian use of the word reckless to describe God’s love is like trying to find a needle in a field full of haystacks.
In one of his more popular “Ask Pastor John” podcasts, pastor-theologian Dr. John Piper, himself no stranger to adjectives, tackled the question of whether a congregation should even sing “Reckless Love.” He points out that it is possible to import your own meaning on the surprising lyric so that it is acceptable, but he also makes a plea to songwriters to choose words that do not require that kind of work for the congregation.
I agree. There is no doubt whatsoever that God’s love is not reckless. God’s love is not marked by a lack of proper caution. God’s love is not careless of consequences. God’s love is not irresponsible.
That said, from a human perspective, God’s love can certainly appear to be reckless. When a lost sinner’s eyes are opened to the wretchedness of his own sin, when he sees how truly unworthy he is, and when he begins to think of himself as beyond redemption, at that point God’s love in action for him can seem to be a truly risky, and even reckless, endeavor. In this sense, one can begin to understand why someone might sing of God’s reckless love.
But what seems to be true is not always true. And that is certainly the case with the word reckless when it comes to God’s love.
The lyrics of “Reckless Love” are based upon the parable of the lost sheep, as recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel. In the chorus of the song, reference is made to how the shepherd is willing to leave the ninety-nine sheep to rescue the lost one. By associating the word reckless with this biblical parable, the songwriters seem to imply that it was an irresponsible act for the shepherd to leave the ninety-nine for the one lost sheep.
According to Luke 15:4, Jesus asks, “What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?”
The songwriters of “Reckless Love” miss an important reality. According to verse four, Jesus does not portray the act of the leaving of the ninety-nine in pursuit of the one as irresponsible, but as an expected, normal action.
The shepherd is able to responsibly leave the flock of ninety-nine because they are already safe. His loving action for the lost one is beautiful and wonderful, but it is not irresponsible or reckless.
So why is this concept of God’s love being reckless so attractive? My theory is that it fits well into a modern romantic view of God’s love. There are a considerable number of Christians who like to think of God’s love much like they think about romantic love between a man and a woman. It is not uncommon for a woman to be attracted to the idea of a man being reckless and risky in pursuing her. The idea that a man would risk it all for a woman’s love is not in the least bit unfamiliar to love stories today.
But while there are certainly valid parallels in comparing the love of God toward us with the romantic love between a man and a woman, there are numerous ways in which one can contrast the differences as well. And this is such a case.
One might say, “But you are being too nit-picky! Lighten up. Just enjoy the song!” The problem with that is simply this… God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:20-24).
Truth matters, especially when false teaching is threatening God’s people. One of the dangers of singing of God’s love as reckless is that such language about God’s love actually fits well with an aberrant theology that has become in vogue among some today. This particular false teaching places a heavy emphasis on the possibilities of the future in an effort to protect the doctrine of man’s free will. But in the process God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and sovereignty are diminished.
Based upon a careful examination of the rest of the lyrics of the song, it seems safe to assume that the writers of “Reckless Love” do not embrace the aforementioned bad theology. But by writing such a successful and popular song that uses the word reckless to describe God’s love, they might be unwittingly contributing to the idea that God truly is engaging in reckless behavior when He loves us. This is a consequence that reveals a lack of proper caution, and might even be considered careless, or irresponsible, songwriting.
It might even be safe to say that the choice of the word ‘reckless’ to describe God’s love is, pardon the repetition, reckless.

Resources for Responding to the Tragedy in Newtown, CT

It’s hard to come up with words to describe the pain and sorrow and confusion surrounding an event like yesterday. I’m posting some recommended resources to help those who want answers for how to cope in the aftermath of such a tragedy.


Russell Moore > “School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare”

Excerpt… “Throughout the history of the universe, evil has manifested a dark form of violence specifically toward children. Not only did the Canaanite nations demand the blood of babies, but the Bible shows where at points of redemptive crisis, the powers of evil have lashed out at children. Pharaoh saw God’s blessing of Israelite children as a curse and demanded they be snuffed out by the power of his armed thugs. And, of course, the Christmas narrative we read together this time of year is overshadowed by an act of horrific mass murder of children. King Herod, seeing his throne threatened, demands the slaughter of innocent children.”

John Piper> “How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?”

Excerpt… “The God who draws near to Newtown is the suffering, sympathetic God-man, Jesus Christ. No one else can feel what he has felt. No one else can love like he can love. No one else can heal like he can heal. No one else can save like he can save.”

John Piper > “A Lesson for All from Newtown”

Excerpt… “Murdering a human being is an assault on God. He made us in his own image. Destroying an image usually means you hate the imaged. Murdering God’s human image-bearer is not just murder. It’s treason — treason against the creator of the world. It is a capital crime — and more. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).”

Ed Stetzer > “Three Ways Christians Should Respond to the Horror of a Broken World”

Excerpt… “Pray for hurting families and broken communities that have had their children ripped from them. Pray for churches to minister to the hurting. Pray for people not to lose heart. And, yes, pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right.”

Jen Wilkin > “A Day for Hatred”


“There is no spin to put on a story like this. Yes, we will hear stories of heroism begin to emerge over the next hours, and they are stories we will need to hear. But there is no way to soften the blow.

Nor should we want to.

As a mother watching someone else’s horror play out on a screen, I want to feel this to the core of my being. I want it to inform my thoughts and actions in a way that leaves me changed. Because on days like today we learn just how broken sin has left us, just how bleak is our landscape without a Savior.”


A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada

From Grief to Glory: A Book of Comfort for Grieving Parents by James W. Bruce

When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes


Lord, we tremble, for we know
How the fierce malicious foe,
Wheeling round his watchful flight,
Keeps them ever in his sight:

Spread Thy pinions, King of kings!
Hide them safe beneath Thy wings;
Lest the ravenous bird of prey
Stoop and bear the brood away.

– William Cowper (1731-1800)

A prayer from Scott Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church of Franklin, TN (written the night of the tragedy)…

“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

Dear Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you tonight —we come running with our tears and our fears, our anger and our anguish, our lament and our longings. We collapse in your presence, with the assurance of your welcome, needing the mercies of your heart.

Some stories are just too much for us to absorb; some evil just too great to conceive; some losses beyond all measurability. We need your tears and your strength tonight. That you wept outside the tomb of a beloved friend frees us to groan and mourn; that you conquered his death with yours, frees us to hope and wait.

But we turn our thoughts from ourselves to the families who have suffered an unconscionable violation of heart and all sensibilities. Bring your presence to bear, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit and through your people. May your servants weep with those who weep and wail with those who wail. Extend your tear wiping hand—reach into this great tragedy with an even greater grace.

We cry out on behalf of the children of Newtown, those most directly affected by this evil, and for children throughout our country and the world, whose little hearts are reeling with fear and terror. Give parents wisdom and kindness, as they seek to love their children well, this night and in the coming days. Raise up gifted counselors and care givers to serve those most traumatized.

Lastly, Lord Jesus, we cry out with a loud voice, How long, O, Lord? How long before you return to eradicate all evil, redeem all tragedies, and make all things new? How long, O, Lord, how long? Your Bride weeps and waits for you. In your merciful and mighty name we pray.


Chris Brauns has a very helpful list of links regarding the role of forgiveness in human caused tragedies like the Newtown massacre.

The Secret to Loving God

We are commanded to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matt. 22.37). And yet we find it hard to love God more than our own desires and the tangible people and things around us. What is the secret to loving God more? The answer is found in Luke 7.36-50 where a woman shows great love for Jesus by pouring expensive oil on his feet, washing his feet while she wept. Some present were repulsed because she was a woman of ill repute. Jesus used the moment as a teaching lesson, sharing a story about two debtors who were forgiven their debts, one more than the other.

When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” (Luke 7.42-43)

Jesus goes on to say that the woman loved much because she was forgiven much, and then states this truth in the opposite form: But he who is forgiven little, loves little (Luke 7.47b).

The secret to growing in your love for God is to grow in your understanding and appreciation for how much God has forgiven you.

What, after all, is the great secret of loving Christ? It is an inward sense of having received from Him pardon and forgiveness of sins. Those love much who feel much forgiven. He who has come to Christ with his sins, and tasted the blessedness of free and full absolution, he is the man whose heart will be full of love towards his Savior. The more we realize that Christ has suffered for us, and paid our debt to God, and that we are washed and justified through His blood, the more we shall love Him for having loved us, and given Himself for us.”  – J. C. Ryle