Most of us have a desire to love people well. We want to love our spouses, our children, our family members, and God himself well. But what does this mean? How do we do it?
There is a popular Christian song out right now called Reckless Love by Corey Asbury. It includes lyrics about how God has loved us:
O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
O, 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
O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
Many articles and blogs have been written about these lyrics, recognizing with concern that the definition of “reckless” is “acting without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.” Clearly, that does not define God’s character, in any way, shape or form. God always knows exactly what He is doing, and He cares infinitely about the consequences of an action. (Check out this local blogpost about this song, or the recent Christianity Today article presenting different thoughts about this song’s lyrics.)
If not “reckless” then what?
“Reckless” is not a right understanding of God’s love. But what is a better understanding? Well, let’s turn in the Bible itself, and let God describe himself. In Exodus 34, God proclaims his name to Moses:
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
And here is how Moses responded:
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.
An accurate understanding of God leads us into worship. Immediately. The more we know God, the better we know his character, the more we will worship him rightly.
Let’s love each other like God loved us.
Throughout Scripture, we see God’s love leading him to big, extravagant actions on our behalf. He “abounds” in love and faithfulness. He is both merciful (“forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin”) and just (“he does not leave the guilty unpunished”). But God’s greatest act of love – sacrificing his own Son, Jesus Christ, in order to heal and restore our relationship with him – was planned since before the world began (1 Peter 1:20). This is not reckless. It is extravagant and amazing, but it was also well-planned, thoughtful, and intentional.
Here in America, we want love to feel passionate, spontaneous, and emotionally moving. We often do act recklessly out of strong emotion, doing or saying things that we might otherwise never do. (Of course, this is true in love but also in anger – any strong emotion can lead us to reckless actions.) But since the synonyms of “reckless” include careless, hasty, and impulsive, then we must acknowledge that this is not how God loves us, and therefore not how we should love each other.
God describes himself as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, forgiving, and abounding in love and faithfulness. In John 15, Jesus himself commands us to “love one another as I have loved you.” Let’s not complicate this more than we need to. God loves us with intentional planning and extravagant action – let’s do the same. God shows us compassion, grace, and forgiveness – let’s extend the same to those around us.
Written by Jessica Hayes
iHope Executive Director