Over the last few months, we've started singing a new song at Grace Point: Reckless Love. It's a popular song for the Church worldwide. It's a favorite for many, serving as a reminder of the lengths to which Christ went to show His love for each of us. The song has garnered some controversy as well with its use of the word "reckless" to describe God's love. I've also heard people admit confusion over the lyrics, particularly the reference to the line "leaves the 99."
I've researched the song quite a bit, leaning into both the original composer's heart behind the song and the Biblical passages that inform it. I thought it might be helpful to share some of that!
1. The intent: The author of the song, Corey Asbury, tells this story better than I could. Check out the story behind the song here:
2. The Biblical background: The concept behind the song comes from Luke 15. Jesus shares a parable about a lost sheep:
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
We are all that single sheep that wanders off from the flock. And it is with seemingly reckless abandon that the Good Shepherd pursues each of us. (Read the full lyrics here.)
3. The controversy: Some folks think it's not a good idea to describe God with a negative word like "reckless." God is intentional after all. He's purposeful. He's orderly. And God is all those things. Yet, He loves the unloveable no matter what the cost. Paul puts it this way in the book of Romans:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus laid aside what was reasonable and took on the unreasonable — death on a cross for a people that didn't care about him. Though His path was planned carefully with the Father from the very beginning, it sounds pretty reckless to me. I thank God for that overwhelming, never-ending love.