DiM | “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

October 30, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury which currently sits at #5 on the Top50 chart at Billboard Top Christian Songs. Today’s song comes to us via a subscriber’s request we cover it. My apologies for the delay in getting around to this one.

This song is aimed at bestowing warm fuzzies and a swollen sense of self-esteem as one who is being chased by the “reckless love of God”. But is this a Biblical depiction of God’s Love? Is this the focus of the Gospel? Let’s examine the song’s lyrics and the artist’s defense of it.

Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

(chorus)
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

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

(chorus)
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

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Publishing: © 2017 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP) / Watershed Publishing Group (ASCAP) (adm. by Watershed Music Group) / Richmond Park Publishing (BMI). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Writer(s): Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver, and Ran Jackson- Producer(s) Jason Ingram and Paul Mabury

Discussion

Okay, so let’s begin with the word choice in the title and primary refrain, “reckless love of God”. Is reckless a suitable word for describing the love of God? No, it isn’t. At its core, the word falls into the scope of irresponsibility and failure to plan. While I understand the desire of an emotional artist to play around with words and their meaning in service to their art, I cannot abide applying the word reckless to an Omniscient (all-knowing) God who saw the ending from the beginning, Who Is the Alpha and the Omega. I do get that this is an attempt to romanticize the sacrificial nature of God’s love for us that He would die for our sin, but this word choice undermines the clear way that God has revealed His plan of Salvation for us throughout Scripture. Recklessness stands in opposition to planning. It’s a poor word choice for conveying truth; instead, the writers were going for an emotional appeal. Several have taken issue with this word choice, so I am not the first, and Cory took to his Facebook page to issue a defense of this word choice.

CoryAshburyFacebookPost

Ugh… I get nauseous reading through that. What we get here is an overreach in describing God in human terms, much like we get from the ancient Greek and Roman gods. Cory really misses the mark in the second paragraph where he describes God’s love as almost childlike –what?– no. Cory is employing hyper-romanticized language to describe a Gospel he doesn’t understand. Notice how he closes that second paragraph, He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return. Not. The. Gospel. God wasn’t taking a gamble at the cross. He knew then and still knows everyone who will come to saving faith, He knows who He is rescuing. He also knows who will reject Christ, God the Son, our Lord, and Savior. God knows. We’ll discuss the attempt at using the Parable of the lost sheep to justify this “reckless” view of God’s Love later. For now, this write-up demonstrates a synergistic view of salvation that paints God as a pining lover rather than the Sovereign God of all Creation.

In the screen capture, I highlighted the notable support from “Georgian and Winnie Banov” Facebook account. These aren’t folks you want supporting your post. I don’t have time to dig into these two, but Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith has covered Georgian Banov several times.

Let’s work through the lyrics of the song now, beginning with verse 1.

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

We see this allusion to God singing over us often in this sort of music. In this case, I think comes from a misreading of Zephaniah 3. The verse being used is v17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” But notice the “will” in there. This is a prophecy pointing forward to the Day of Salvation. Israel looked to this as the day they would return to Jerusalem, we look to it as descriptive of Christ’s Return. In this case, we only need to look to the previous verse for the words, “On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem…”. Read through the whole prophecy in the link provided above and you’ll see that this is prophetic of a promise of the great celebration on the Last Day. Lord, come quickly.

As for the lines about breath, it’s romanticism removed from a clear communication of Truth. Yes, the very life that animates our bodies from conception come from Adam and the breath that God breathed into him, but at the same time, we are born dead in the sin of Adam.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

So the line in the first verse is unclear in its use and thus unclear in its meaning. The Lord has been good and kind to us all, in sending His Son, Jesus to atone for our sin. John 1:29 (ESV) “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Chorus. Now we’re back to the problem of the whole “reckless love of God” thing. But let’s look at the reference to the Parable of the lost sheep.

Luke 15:1-7 (ESV) Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

This is a wonderful parable of how all of heaven rejoices when one comes to saving faith in Christ Jesus, repenting of sin. This isn’t recklessness, this is love. Love doesn’t need a ridiculous modifier such as “reckless”, and insisting upon using such a modifier belies a lack of understanding of Love. Jesus “receives sinners and eats with them”, by His Grace, Mercy, and Love. Also, notice the punchline of the parable, “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Jesus is rebuking the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes. To attempt to use this parable to justify depicting God’s Love as “reckless” is… well… reckless. It’s an exercise in missing the point all for writing a romantic love song.

Verse 2. There is merit in attempting to convey that we were once hostile to God, so let’s highlight that point.

Romans 5:1-11 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

But there is a line that infuriates me in this verse, “When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me“… ugh. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for our “felt worth” or self-esteem, our problem was far more grave and perilous… we are guilty of SIN. Being an enemy of God is no small matter and we are born children of wrath. We shouldn’t be sugar-coating these Truths of our sinful condition, we should be preaching them clearly.

The song closes out with a string of emotive promises lacking clear direction. Romanticized appeals to being pursued by God and his “reckless” love. The emphasis is on the wrong actor, the emphasis is on us as though God is still being reckless to win our affection (remember Cory’s comment on Facebook, He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return). In over-cooking the ‘romantic relationship’ narrative, the song makes the error of ignoring that the Salvation won by Jesus at the cross has already taken place in time and space. Jesus declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Scripture shared above has declared this as the pinnacle of God’s Love for us, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Conclusion

This song is a cheesy love song posing as gospel. The focus is on the wrong thing, us rather than our Savior and His finished work on the Cross. Cory’s defense of his wording in the song is probably the clearest evidence against it, he doesn’t rightly understand Law and Gospel. This song is meant to scratch itching ears and swell up self-esteem rather than clearly proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sin. The focus should ever and always be Christ and faith in Him alone.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

3 thoughts on “DiM | “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury

  1. Thanks for doing my request! Really appreciate all the hard work that goes into these posts. May God continue to bless you, your family, and your ministry 🙂

    • Thanks for the link. Full Disclosure: I’m not a fan of John Piper.

      I find it interesting Piper wasn’t aware of Cory Asbury’s confession of faith (Bethel Redding) but sought to force a Calvinistic reading into the song lyrics. Piper is having to respond to a listener question on-the-spot, so I suppose this is a fair example of how we tend toward reading our own doctrine into the music. I also think Piper is trying to be overly generous (and vague) regarding forms of worship for a Church service. I find this song to be bad for “easy listening” and have a hard time understanding why anyone would think this song appropriate for Corporate Worship.

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