— Mission Statement —
Providing honest reporting and analysis on the intersection of contemporary issues and theology, based on a ..… Biblical Christian Worldview.

HomeSpiritual Growth"Reckless Love" - Questioning the Lyrics

“Reckless Love” – Questioning the Lyrics

The Christian song, “Reckless Love” was written by Cory Asbury and was released on October 27, 2017. 

The song won the “Song of the Year” and “Worship Song of the Year” at the 49th Annual GMA Dove Awards in 2018. It was nominated for the 2019 Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song”. It was also nominated for Top Christian Song at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards.

Some of the verses have been considered controversial by Biblical Christians. Following is a review of the lyrics of the song, those which are God-affirming and those which have been considered questionable. 

Review of Verses

1. Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me*3.When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me*
2. Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me*4. When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me*

*You have been so, so good to me

  • Verse 1&2 – God created us and gave us life.
    • Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
    • Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
  • Verse 3 – God loves us and fights for us, even when we don’t love Him.
    • Romans 8:37… In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
    • Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
  • Verse 4 – We are worthless yet God solved the sin problem and paid for our salvation.
    • 2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Chorus

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
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

  • The song is based on Luke 15:1-8 (and Matt. 18:10-4), the Parable of the Lost Sheep where the Shepherd goes after the one who was lost, leaving the 99 in the open country. 
    • Verse 7b-8, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
  • God is going after the sinner to save his soul in an intense way – both underserved and mind-boggling. 

Next Verses

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up*
There’s no wall You won’t kick down             
Lie You won’t tear down*

*Coming after me

  • Verse #1 – Matthew 4:16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them, a light has dawned.”
  • Verse #1 – Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
  • Verse #2 – John 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

There is in all the lyrics of the song, the implication that God is more than wooing the sinner to salvation, but actually dragging him/her, against their will, to the cross. This is the theology of Predestination and addresses point #4 (Irresistible Grace) of the five pillars of Calvinism. 

  • Irresistible Grace – God’s call to the elect for salvation cannot be resisted by man (Romans 9:16, Philippians 2:12-13, and John 6:28-29).

Some take offense with this theology. This is because Irresistible Grace typically relies on another pillar (#2) of Calvinism, Unconditional Election which has at its core the belief that God decides who is saved (with no input from mankind) rather than the free will of the individual. With God having the foreknowledge of who will come to Him, He initiates irresistible grace to those who will be elected to be saved. Of course, many disagree with what they see as the abdication of man’s free will choice to follow Christ. However, predestination is a well known theological concept and not the underlying controversy related to the song, “Reckless Love”. 

The Controversy

There are two main complaints with what have been termed the “defective lyrics” of the song…. 

The first is the actual name itself, “Reckless Love”. 

The term “Reckless” is defined as behavior being “marked by a lack of proper caution or careless of consequences, irresponsible”. Synonyms include being brash, careless, foolhardy, ill-advised, a daredevil, etc. In the English Standard Version of the Bible, the word “reckless” appears 4 times, all of which are exemplified as negative, human traits. 

In the use of this song title and repeating lyrics, there is an implication that God is not omniscient (all-knowing) about the future. Since He doesn’t know what might happen, He is taking reckless risks in seeking out the lost and offering His Son for salvation. Further, the implied commitment (tearing down walls, etc.) involved in seeking out and saving one lost sinner could imply more effort than a sovereign God should put forth. Said differently, the argument is that a sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing, sinless God, is never “reckless” in any of His actions.

My view is that the song was written (or at least should be interpreted) from a human perspective, not from God’s perspective. God’s love may look ill-advised to mankind (especially the unbeliever), but not to God who has everything under complete control (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent). 

The second issue, intertwined in the first, for which some have taken offense, is the songwriter, Cory Asbury’s own interpretation of his lyrics. Cory is quoted as saying:

“When I used the phrase, ‘the reckless love of God,’ when we say it, we’re not saying that God Himself is reckless, He’s not crazy. We are, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. But what I mean is this: He’s utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His own actions with regard to His own safety, comfort and well-being. … He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself on the line, He simply puts Himself out there on the off-chance that you and I might look back at Him and give Him that love in return.”

Of course, the issue here is that it implies God does not know the future of His own actions. Using terms like God is “unconcerned… concerning His own safety”, and “off-chance…you …might… give Him that love” paints a picture of a God who is not omniscient or omnipotent. This flies in the face of conventional Biblical Christian systematic theology on many levels. 

Cory continues to dig a deeper hole by saying:

“His love leaves the ninety-nine to find the one every time and to many practical adults, that’s a foolish concept. Well, what if He loses the ninety-nine in finding the one, right? What if, finding that one lost sheep is and always will be supremely important?”

Again, this implies to many Christians that Cory believes God is not Sovereign, all-knowing, and all-powerful by saying God could lose the 99 as He peruses the 1. This conflicts with #5 of the five pillars of Calvinism which is Perseverance of the Saints. Said differently, the believer once saved, cannot lose their salvation. 

The actual Scripture verses (found in Matt. 18:10-14 and Luke 15), do not imply, as Cory seems to, that the 99 left behind could be in any jeopardy related to their salvation. Most traditional Christian theologians see the 99 as already believers and safe in the Father’s hands. Others see the 99 as eternally lost, with only the one becoming part of God’s election. In either case, Cory’s expressed view of the 99 having a change of their eternal state is not theologically sound.

With over 158 million views and 825k Likes, clearly “Reckless Love” captures the love of God, even if there are theological issues with the lyrics.

Summary

On the surface, “Reckless Love” is a beautiful song, expressing God’s intense love and protection for his flock. It is engaging and uplifting, evidenced by its tremendous popularity. It is true that Musicians are not theologians. However, it is also important that Biblical Christians have their ears tuned to the words they are singing and the theology it represents.

Jeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org

RELATED ARTICLES

Most Recent