Many an Easter season, the Revised Common Lectionary plunges worshippers into the love language of 1 John. From the Father's great love for us to the commandment of "love one another" to God being love itself, we hear the word, "love," so much that we miss out on the radicalness of John's message. We forget that in the midst of the early Church's persecution from outside forces and discord from arguments within, leaders like John did not outline "seven easy steps to church survival." He had no business plan or marketing strategy to survive the tough times. In fact, his language was not even one of "Survivor," as if the Church were competitors on a deserted island. John's call to the early church echoes today that the Church is different because of its foundation in love. Love is not a program. Love is the way of living differently in the world.
There is no shortage of songs about God's love in hymnody, praise and worship, and gospel music. Over the past year, one in particular has made its way to the top of the Christian charts and to the center of song sets at contemporary worship services. "Reckless Love," written and originally recorded by Cory Asbury, comes from Bethel Music in Redding, California. Search for "the love of God" (without quotations) on You Tube, and a live recording of the song is the fourth search result. The song has ministered to numerous people, and many Christians around the world sing along with passionate belief.
How wonderful it would be if we could stop there in celebration of people experiencing God's love through diversity of music. Yet all these years after the apostle John wrote his "love of God" letters, disharmony still plagues the Church from within. Critics have said that the song is problematic with its word, "reckless," and "misrepresents the nature of God's love." Theologians have picked the song apart to name what is "wrong" with it. While I agree that we should think about what we're singing and what the songs say, to tear down a message that draws a brother or sister closer to that eternal love of God is far more dangerous.
Long before Cory Asbury began writing songs, the late singer/songwriter, Rich Mullins, described God's love as a raging, reckless fury. I love that quote. I want to give it a big hug because it reminds us that the love of God is not some paper heart that can be thrown away. It's a force that follows us, pursues us, and moves heaven and earth to save us from ourselves. Yes, we must choose to receive the love, but our shortcomings don't stop its power. It's the kind of love about which John wrote. A love that is different.
Perhaps we can start with a song that you might not like but surely contains something to Love.
Listen to the song.
Read the words.
Look for what is good.
Let us not criticize but celebrate the diversity of ways we sing, and live, the radical recklessness of God's love.
all good things to each of you,