I wanted to discuss the idea of God's love being reckless, as sung in the Bethel Music worship song, "Reckless Love."
There has been a lot of conversation around this song as to whether we should use the term "reckless" to describe God's love for us. To some, the use of this word is dishonoring to an all-loving, all-wise and all-powerful God, reducing Him to an obsessive deity, unable to control His own responses. To others, the use of this word speaks volumes to their soul as they consider how God left nothing on the table to rescue and redeem the lost sinner, even setting aside His own dignity in pursuit of His personal passion.
My intention with this response to "Reckless Love" is not to establish or discredit either view, but rather to turn us to the unifying truths of Scripture as we seek to understand Him who exceeds the ability of our mortal understanding.
When we hear the word "reckless," we tend to think of things that have to do with being foolish, undisciplined or unwise, right? The word relates to something done without applying wisdom, without thinking it all the way through, lacking prudence and good judgment.
So from that point of reference, you might be thinking "God is not any of those things! God is wise! God's judgment is always good!" And I would agree.
But here's the thing. God doesn't use the world's standards to judge and define His actions. He uses His own heavenly standards, which seem foolish to the world. And often God chooses to explain His wisdom and truth to us by referring to it in the most opposing words available in contrast to worldly wisdom.
For example, when speaking of those Jesus bled and died for, the pure white bride of Christ, Paul says in 1 Corinthians that we are "scum of the earth." When speaking about living a life based on faith in the power of the resurrection of Christ, again Paul concedes that to the world we should look like the most pitiful people on the planet (see 1 Cor. 15:19).
So the concept of using undignified terminology to highlight the great chasm that separates the world's understanding of God to His own understanding is well established in Scripture.
Take a look at what it says in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25:
"For to those who are perishing, the preaching of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (v. 18).
Would you call the cross foolish? Of course not! You understand what the cross is, what it means? But to the world, it is foolish indeed.
"It pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks" (vv. 21b-23).
They (the unbelievers) don't get it. It doesn't fit into their model of thinking ... their standards. It's foolish! It's reckless!
"But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, we preach Christ as the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (v. 24-25).
Consider this: God tells us we must become like children to come to him. A child, when he or she sees what they want, will go after it with reckless abandon. It judges for itself what is most important, and will leave all it has for that chance at getting that one thing it deems in that moment to want the most.
Remember the parable Jesus spoke about the "pearl of great price." The man sold everything he had to gain access to this one pearl of great value. Foolish! Reckless spending of all he owned! But to the person of faith it's not foolish, it's not reckless. It's the wisdom of God calling.
Jesus will leave the 99 sheep to go after the one that is lost. Jesus will leave His throne in heaven to take on the frailty of human, mortal flesh, to save even just one lost sinner. To the world, to a grownup, this is childish, reckless thinking. But not to the one who knows what's most important.
The father or mother who has lost his child will give up all sense of proper etiquette when searching for that child. I don't like bringing attention to myself in any normal situation, but when I can't find my small son or daughter in a crowd I get reckless to my own standards. I become a spectacle to all those around me in my effort to find my lost child.
Jesus became a spectacle on the cross, for all to see. Not prim and proper, no dignity, just a spectacle for all to see. Reckless love for those He came to save. Reckless by worldly standards—but not by the heavenly standard.
The Bible consistently encourages us to represent Him in this life by living the life of a fool. Fools that love others with the same reckless abandon as Jesus loves us. Fools that love as if this world and what it offers means nothing, and God's kingdom and our eternity mean everything. To the world, that's foolish, dare we say, even reckless. To the one being saved, it is the power and faithfulness of God the Father to do whatever it takes to save those He loves.
Tracy Manno currently resides in central Pennsylvania with his wife and three children and is president & CEO of His Way Worship® and co-founder of Narrow Road Ministries where he has serves as director of business and worship. Drawing upon 20+ years experience as lead worship pastor, as well as a broad range of achievements as a songwriter, artist and business executive, Tracy spends much of his time coaching new artists and mentoring those with a desire to live out their God-written destiny in Christ.
For more information and to contact Tracy about coaching, worship and speaking engagements, go to HisWayWorship.com or connect on Facebook at facebook.com/HisWayWorship.
I have been in fulltime work of the Gospel for nearly 15 years, and no matter how hard I try, inevitably I find myself fighting against the knowledge I have of God’s love for me. My “default” thinking wants to see God with a list of my good and bad deeds, rewarding or denying His goodness towards me based on that list. This is wrong thinking and I am regularly amazed with how easily I get caught up in it over and over again.
I “know” He loves me, and I “know” that it’s unconditional… but I often don’t truly live in that place in my heart and mind. God’s love is not just to be heard about, but experienced.
No greater example of this problem is seen than with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. To the contrary to what many Christians teach and believe, after they sinned God banished them from the garden, not out of punishment but out of a deeply emotional and loving response from God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. God’s motive for banishing them from the garden is recorded that we might forever understand where His heart was during this deeply traumatic experience.
Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
God was not angry with them, and He definitely wasn’t pouring out judgment and punishment on them. He loved them, and all that they represented as first created of an entire human race meant to live in intimate relationship with Him. No, the Triune God had to let them go so that they would not remain in a fallen state, forever separated from God for all of eternity. And as He sent them out, He also set into motion His plan to bring them back! And as we know from His own words… “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son”… this was no little plan. This plan came at great personal cost to himself… because of His Great Love!
Unfortunately it doesn’t take much in our weakened sinful state to withdraw back to a place of shame and guilt, even so much as to doubt, and ultimately reject the concept that God loves us with a very personal and intimate love. The voice of the enemy points us to the angel standing guard at the entrance to Eden, blocking our re-entry, keeping us out, reminding us of our guilt. But the truth of God points us forward to a place of healing and restored relationship.
God created us from His love. God sustains us through His love. God redeems us because of His love. There is no more condemnation for those in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1) He is nearer to you now than ever before. He has given you His spirit to dwell within you, to be connected with you, to reveal more of Himself to you.
His love is fierce. His love is intense. The strength of His love surpasses our own failures. And yet while none of us are good enough to earn his love, we are loved by Him nonetheless. No, you don’t need to please Him in order to gain His love. He loves you already, by His own choice.
Father, help me today not to allow the enemy, Satan, to steal the peace and healing to my soul that comes with the knowledge of your love for me. Your word tells me that even when you discipline me it is out of your great love for me. I repent of a religious mindset that says I must earn your love and earn your favor. In Christ Jesus your love and faithfulness have been made known to me. May I live this day in the fullness of that knowledge!
Rich Mullins is one of my all-time favorite song writers. During one of his concerts he said that “The Church is God’s plan A for the world, and there is no plan B.” What he meant was it is the Church that is empowered to be His witnesses to the world, to preach the good news of the gospel, and continue the works of Jesus on earth until He comes back. That is the plan of God for reaching the lost on this earth for salvation.
For as long as I have been in fulltime ministry I have closely held the belief that since we are the Body of Christ on earth we are to be the practical and functional hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. Meaning we are to be available to help people in their need, to be with them to bring comfort when they suffer, to share in life with them the way Jesus did. I still hold this to be true today, however my understanding of this has become richer and fuller in its meaning for my life.
We know from scripture that it is God who draws people to himself; not me, not you, not your pastor or anyone in church leadership, but God himself. But God does this through us. When people are drawn to God by His kindness (Romans 2:4) it is done through the Christian’s that those people are interacting with.
We are His hands and feet, but it is not enough to simply be in the right place at the right time, or to share a word with someone, or to preach the gospel or spend time with people. No, God teaches us that if I do all these things but lack love… His love … I have done nothing eternally consequential.
We can share the gospel but have no compassion in our hearts for the lost. We can give a cold drink of water to the thirsty, but have no empathy for their spiritual condition. We can offer a word of prophecy and encouragement, yet have no concern for their current needs.
I believe this is why Jesus told His disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait until the promised Holy Spirit was given to them (Acts 1:4). He said that the Holy Spirit would empower them to be His witnesses. And what was and is this power? It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and the same power that took Jesus to the cross. He is the Spirit of truth and love, and it is only the Spirit of truth and love that reveals the heart of God to us. (1 Corinthians 2:10-13)
God draws people through His kindness through the hearts of believers who have given themselves, their lives, their hearts, to know and release the loving kindness of God to others. We are His body, and that includes His heart. We are to overflow His heart to those around us, just as Christ poured out His life as an offering.
Romans 12 says that this is our spiritual act of “worship” … each day offering our bodies as living sacrifices so we can be not only His hands and feet to others, but His heart as well.
And whether God empowers you to share the gospel, or a word of encouragement, pray for healing or provide help to those that can’t help themselves… each of those good works is to come from the loving and kind heart of the Father. The works are “good” because of the heart from which the worker does them. And if done without love, they are nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Scripture encourages each of us to do regular self examination of our hearts and test to see if we are truly living the faith we proclaim to have. Are we loving God with all our hearts, in all of our decisions, in all of our dealings? Are we loving our neighbors, those around us, with the same love that took Jesus to the cross? If we find that we are far from loving others in that way, then let us pray that the Holy Spirit would convict us of this, and let us ask Him to reveal His heart to us, that we may reveal it to those around us.
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You may have heard that God’s love is an anchor that reaches to the heavens. When we understand that we are anchored to something stronger than the elements surrounding us, we can rest in the strength of the anchor.
God’s love anchors us in the storms of fear, doubt and confusion. It anchors us from the continuing voices of self condemnation, failure and defeat. We are tethered to a force strong enough to overcome even the loudest shouts that rage against us.
To know Him is to know His love for you. To experience Him as a Father is to experience His unwavering commitment to your good. His love and commitment to you is so great that He has purposed to make all circumstances in your life ultimately be worked out for good (Romans 8:28).
The anchor of God’s love provides a place of certainty, that although your soul may be in turmoil to the current situation, you can cling to the certainty of His good thoughts and good purposes in that situation toward you. He is not ridiculing you. He is not waiting on you to do it perfectly. He is not waving a condemning finger before you. He is not withholding anything good from you. No… you are on the road to your purpose. And on that road He is faithful to you. His love is not trite nor changing, as is our own. His love endures. His love comes from the very heart of who He is.
“Lord may my spirit be tethered to the realness of your love for me this day. May the turbulent circumstances that trouble my soul this day be stilled as I hold to the knowledge of your steadfast love for me. Teach me, lead me, and guide me by your still voice. Remind me again who I am in Christ, that I am loved, I am Yours, I am precious in your eyes. Give me faith to worship you by standing on this truth today. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:17-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Psalm 36:5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.