“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God...”
The band was playing, the singers were singing, the congregation was really getting into it. “Praise God!” I thought. I lifted my hands with the all the others and worshiped and thanked God for His amazing love – He created me, He saved me, he blesses me over and over – He truly has been so, so good to me just like the song says.
At the end of the song, one of the worship leaders began to talk about how some people took issue with the song because it calls the love of God reckless. “I don’t have any problem with that,” I thought. “The love of God is reckless. Jesus went to the cross for us, is interceding for us, and does go after us when we are lost. I am so glad that when I was lost Jesus came looking for me and brought me to Himself!”
But as I thought about it, the rest of the lyrics are where the problem lies. Should children of God, people who are adopted into the family of God, set free from sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, and have a passionate love for God be hiding in the shadows or believing lies or putting up walls that keep God away from us? That seems to be what we are saying as we sing about those things. If we sang them as if they were in the past, that would be great! God did indeed rescue us from lies from the pit of hell and the shadows of all kinds of sin. But now, as a child of God, I don’t want to continue to live in the shadows of sin and the influence of lies. I have repented of those things and am now pursing God. I am running towards Him, not away from Him!
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not perfect. I do screw up and sin from time to time. But sin doesn’t dominate me the way it used to. I consider myself dead to sin and alive to Christ Jesus as the Apostle Paul taught us. For the most part God doesn’t have to come after me because I am coming after Him – talking to Him all the time, reading the Word often, singing spiritual songs in my heart, connecting with my brothers and sisters in Christ daily, being light and salt to the world around me, and generally letting Him be the Lord of my life. I don’t need Him to come chasing after me, but I am glad He will if needed.
But is that what we are teaching with that song? It seems to me like we are basically saying that it is fine for me to continue to live my me-centered sinful life and God will continue to chase me down and force me to come back to Him. Maybe I am nitpicking here, and I do love the upbeat and heartfelt worship that is brought to us by skillful musicians like those that wrote the Reckless Love of God, but I think the larger issue needs to be addressed: In our churches today – in our worship songs, in our preaching and teaching, in our counseling – are we calling people to turn away from their sin and turn to God? Are we calling them to repentance or are we content to simply tell them that God loves them?
And what about the worldliness that permeates our churches today? Are we calling people out of the world to follow Christ? Do we tell them that love for this world is enmity with God? Or by our not telling them to live holy lives and by our reckless song lyrics are we saying that they can be in love with the world and in love with God at the same time?
I know that this is a lot to put at the feet of one song, and I understand that the song itself is a product of how we do church today and the way we do ministry and our desire to make people feel good. I don’t blame the songwriters nor people who enjoy the song. In fact, there are many songs today that trumpet the same truths about the love of God and what He does for us. And He does indeed chase after us; He never lets us down; He works all things for our good; He does all these things that we sing about. And I rejoice in His love and all He does for us.
In the midst of all our rejoicing over what He has done for us, though, let’s remember that we have a part to play. There is a place for holy living and for us pursuing God rather than the other way around. There is a place for us serving Him rather than Him serving us. Let’s sing songs that speak of our desire for Him, not just the things He does for us. Let’s pursue Him in our worship rather than singing me-centered feel-good songs. Let’s lift Him high and above all the things of this world and let’s tell Him how much we love Him!
Questions for Contemplation and Discussion
- What do your favorite songs teach and encourage people to do?
- What do the songs you sing in church teach and encourage people to do?
- What is the purpose or purposes of singing songs in worship?
- Are those purposes fulfilled in your church?
- What could be done differently or better?
Let’s Pray Together: Lord, our heart is to worship You and You alone. Help us to focus on You and not the things of this world. Help us to be thankful and to pursue You in worship singing and prayer and with our whole lives. Teach me to be a worshipper of God Most High….(continue praying as you feel led)
Scriptures to Study: 1 Chronicles 16:23-33, John 4:23-24, Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 29, Psalm 99, Psalm 100