The song “Reckless Love” has become a phenomena within the church of late, and for quite understandable reasons. It is a fact that it is very well written musically, but more than that, it appeals to our sense of what many of us believe God to be and the dynamics of our relationship with Him.
It is one of the simplistic things in the world to sit behind a computer and throw out criticism of something that is popular, and this is something that I have always tried to avoid. It is far easier to criticise others than to build ourselves. However, I believe that there are major issues with the direction that this song takes us and the message which it reinforces. Although the correctness or otherwise of one song is not of much importance in itself, our desire to embrace it highlights a much wider and critical misunderstanding within the church.
“Reckless Love” is based upon the parable of the lost sheep found in Luke 15: 3-7. In it, Jesus states how He leaves the ninety-nine sheep in order to find the one lost sheep. There is obviously a biblical basis for this song, representing Jesus’ heart in desiring to see the lost return to Him, (Luke 15:7.) Undoubtedly this verse shows that Jesus comes to His sheep in order to bring us to Him. However, Jesus also makes it clear that what he is rejoicing over is not just the fact that He went to the lost sheep, but that the sheep decided to repent and come to Jesus himself once found by God. Jesus does not simply find the sheep and affirm him and his emotions where He is. He does not come alongside man just to make him feel good in his brokenness and sin, but calls him to repentance, to accept Jesus’ righteousness and to lead his life behind and to follow Him. By His grace Jesus comes to us in our sin, but it is to call us into His righteousness. The real focus of the message of the gospel is not in Him chasing us, but His calling that we would chase after Him.
“Reckless Love” reinforces a misrepresentation of what it is to truly follow Jesus. Jesus absolutely meets us where we are when we are lost. He sits with sinners and with the broken, but He never does so to leave us there, rather He does so to call us out of the world and towards Him. There are many bible verses and parables, far too many to list here, where Jesus explains that the gospel is a call to follow Him. He is not chasing us around to make us feel better, and nor are we the centre of the gospel. “Reckless Love” affirms to the church that we are the focus point being chased, and that God is moving Heaven and Earth to minister to us without there being any emphasis upon us humbling ourselves and seeking Him. The issue of the song is more than just the words, but the whole direction in which it takes us, which is why I believe this song represents such an issue. The gospel based church will always be focused upon our following Him, never the other way round. It is the grace of God that he does leave the ninety-nine to come to us, but it is misrepresentation of His grace to believe that that is the power balance in our relationship with God
A gospel focused church will also have authentic worship, worship that is centred upon that call to leave our lives and follow Him. More than that, they will set a direction that is away from ourselves and towards Him. Songs that focus upon our feelings or emotions or that misrepresent the love and purpose of God’s grace leave us in a place of immaturity, a place where we expect Jesus to follow us around doing our will and granting our wishes. A real worship leader or minister will put ministry to God before everything. They understand the way into God’s presence and will lead the people into that place. They will be concerned with the worship that God desires, not with worship that pleases the emotions or the flesh of man. True worship leads man to God, it does not try to make God accept man on our terms. Above all, it places Jesus and our desire to for Him at the centre of all that it does.
The popularity of the song “Reckless Love” is symptomatic of a church that only understands the cheap gospel. The cheap gospel misrepresents the grace of God and puts man at the centre of the message. It reduces the role of God to one of almost fairy-godmother status, someone who exists to grant our wishes and who justifies us in whatever we do. This gospel has no cost. It is easy to pick up and equally easy to discard when it no longer suits us. It does not require us to leave our lives, but instead states that Jesus seeks to bless us where we are, that He in fact spends His time chasing us to keep us happy. The cheap gospel leaves us unchanged and in immaturity. A great deal of modern worship songs are based upon our feelings and emotions, and they put the focus upon God chasing us.
The gospel that Jesus preached was to repent and to leave our lives. It is was one where he told us to count the cost before even considering to follow Him, (Luke 14:28.) It is a gospel that will cost us everything, our money, (Matt 19:21,) our family, (Mark 10:29.) It is a gospel that will lead people to hate us, (Luke 16:22.) In fact, Jesus stated that it is only the false prophets who are loved by the church, (Luke 6:26,) Why? because the cheap gospel appeals to our flesh and our sense of self. The message that Jesus preached may mean being rejected even by the church, as it goes against the message of God chasing us and instead preaches a message where we need to turn to God. Songs that are based upon God pursuing us and our emotions keep people in state of immaturity where we are unable to follow God as we are never shown the way. In turn, we are left with churches that are firmly rooted upon the desires and opinions of man rather than upon the truth of Jesus, even though they may come across a very spiritual.
The grace of God is both beautiful and powerful. Not only that, it is also essential, and none of us can come to Jesus except through His works. However, Jesus clearly stated the responsibility that is upon us if we are to go deeper into Him, that He is God and that it is up to us to follow Him and what he is doing. I hunger and thirst for for His righteousness, for His glory, and a gospel driven church filled with true worship will lead me to that place, to Jesus Himself.
For further reading, “The Cost of Following Jesus” by Benjamin Sealey is available on Amazon, or email for a copy.