Do you know the Cory Asbury song, “Reckless Love”?
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
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.
About a year ago, I was in a conversation with a Christian brother who told me that he didn’t like this song. In particular, he objected to the song’s depiction of God as “reckless”.
My reaction at the time was that I loved the song, but I didn’t really think through at the time WHY I like the song so much.
Why do I love the song? Because Asbury captures something important and startling, namely the reckless nature of grace.
Grace IS gratuitous. Grace is wasteful. It doesn’t make sense from a cost-benefit perspective. Asbury eloquently captures its shocking nature.
Maybe in our modern Western minds, where we tend to think of God as a CEO, a businessman or a banker, this irks our sensibilities. We’re taught that wastefulness is evil–and I’m certainly not suggesting it should be a normal pattern in our lives.
(This is not just a worldview problem; it’s also a theological problem, isn’t it? To accuse God of wastefulness is to measure God by a standard external to him, a standard from outside of his character and action.)
When it comes to understanding grace, when it comes to understanding God’s love, we’re better off picturing him as a king, supremely and unimaginably wealthy in comparison to his subjects, with the God-given (or gods-given) right to spend all the resources of a kingdom on a whim.
If the king has the unquestioned authority to waste his entire kingdom on a whim–“my kingdom for a horse!”–which is much more in keeping with the biblical milieu, then referring to God’s love and grace as reckless suddenly makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it?
God’s love …
- Does not balance cost and benefit.
- Spends itself completely with no guarantee it will be returned. (“I am happy to spend all I have, and myself be completely spent, for your sakes.” [2 Cor 12.15])
- Gives up its kingdom to seek and save the rebel, the scoundrel, the sinner. (“He did not consider equality with God something to be held onto, but he emptied himself …” [Phil 2.6-7] “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom. [Matt 20.28])
- Forgives prodigiously, wastefully.
- It’s the priest in Les Miserables (“Did you forget to take the candlesticks?”)
- It’s the Prodigal Father (Luke 15.11ff).
- (And we often play the older brother in this scenario, don’t we? “Why all this waste?” is an older brother question, right?)
In a word … reckless.