“God is love” – 1 John 4:8

 I have a question I’ve been pondering recently. It’s a question that has rocked me. It’s a question that has touched me to the core. It’s a question that overwhelms me. There’s a lot of questions we put before the Lord and a good many of them start with the word, “Why?” “Why Lord did I miscarry my child?” “Why Lord was that child abused?” “Why Lord did he/she leave me?” “Why Lord, did my business fail?” “Why Lord, is there so much conflict in the world?” “Why Lord is there war?” “Why Lord do the innocent suffer?” “Why Lord is there so much injustice and pain and suffering?” “Why Lord ‘do bad things happen to good people’?” Yes, there’s a lot of question people ask that begin with “Why?” But really, all of these questions can be answered and blamed on our first parents and their decision to reject God’s love; to sin for the first time. That led to a historical infection of humanity with sin, and not only the human race, but nature itself was disordered and set out of balance so that throughout history there are natural disasters and calamities of all kinds. Our sinful nature and our own personal decisions to sin can be implicated in any and all problem issues involving human volition. Forgive my over simplification and lack of philosophical dialogue about such “why?” questions, but none of these questions is the question I’ve been pondering.

No, the question I’ve been pondering is a lot different than that. Oh, it’s a question I have for God. But its not a question with an implied blame toward God. Quite the contrary, there’s something about God I just can’t get my mind and heart around. There’s something about God I have been thinking about, praying about, pondering and meditating on. Maybe this thought began a while back when our worship team led us in the song “Reckless Love.”

My initial reaction to the song was oppositional. I thought, wait a minute, God is all knowing, His love can’t be reckless. Reckless implies He doesn’t know the outcome of His love. It implies an out of control God who I know is always in control. I thought about that and wasn’t all too happy about such perceived irreverence. But then I began to listen a bit more. Here are the lyrics:

Reckless Love

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

[Verse 2]
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

[Bridge]
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[1]

You know, as I just stated, I’m not totally on board with the idea of God’s love as “reckless.” My initial thoughts are that “reckless” implies doing something without knowing the outcome. But God knows everything in foreknowledge; before it happens; in totality. God loves and knows exactly what that entails. He knows the cost of love. He knows the expense and sacrifice of love. He knows the effect of love. So, in that regard, a better word than “reckless” could have and probably should have been chosen for this lyric about the love of God.

I know that the song “Reckless Love” is not without controversy for other reasons which I won’t go into now. But the Spirit spoke to me as I was worshipping and thinking about the words of that song. He used that song to leave a lasting impression on me. He used that song to raise a question in my heart, a foundational question.

It’s that chorus that got me, “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.” Look, I apologize ahead of time if the song offends anyone. But God uses imperfect vessels and imperfect instruments to accomplish His plans. He uses the ordinary to do extraordinary things. And He used that song to pierce my heart with a question. That question is, “Why Lord, why do You love me so?” God’s love is never-ending. He loves me and you and us from beginning to end. He, “chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine.” And truly, the longer I live this Christian life the truer the lyrics become to me that sing, “I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it” that precious love of God. And all I can say or sing is, “O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” I’ll abbreviate it, “O, the overwhelming, never-ending . . . love of God.”

“Lord, why do You love me, us, anyone so much?” You love us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). You chose Israel to love and then told them, “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:7). The best we can come up with is that God loves “sinners,” and the “least.” That’s exactly the opposite of who we love isn’t it? We are attracted to those who are sincere, strong, smart, spiritually mature and pure. But not God. Oh, He does love those too. But He loves the unlovable. That’s you and me. At least it is for me.

I’m so unlovable. On the outside I may look pretty good to those around me, but honestly, I’m an unlovable person. I’m whinny and a big baby. I’m a complainer. I’m spoiled. I’m ungrateful. I’m short-sighted and shallow. I’m so jealous and selfish. I’m envious of others. I see the world revolving around me. I’m weak and my discipline is way too much inclined to deteriorate over time. I’m impure and imbalanced in so many ways. I fail so often. I fall so far short of God’s glory. I do all this and I’m a Christian! I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I believe I’m Spirit-filled. I really do love the Lord. But its such a small love. It’s such a flawed and imperfect, inadequate love. “Why Lord, why do You love me so?”

Now some of you are going to read this and shake your head and say or think, “That poor, poor brother. He needs to get out of Romans 7 and into Romans 8! He needs to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Listen, I know about these things and I’ve experienced these things. I’m not talking a defeatist Christian experience. I believe in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. I’m not going to reverse my feelings when I believe they are based in fact and grounded in scripture. Because as “good” as it gets for me and those I’ve seen in life, nothing comes close to putting anyone in a position to not ponder, “Why Lord, why do You love me so?”

The human being, even with Jesus in the heart and Spirit filled, has nothing to brag about. Our righteousness is nothing of us and everything of Jesus. “For He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Those last words are words of Christ in red; straight from God’s heart to ours. And all I can think of when I see the extent of our salvation and the incredible cost is, “Why Lord, why do You love us so?”

God’s word is His love letter to us. It wasn’t enough to create us in love and save us in love and sustain us in love, no, God always does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). And so, He wrote us a perfect Spirit breathed letter that breathes life into those who take it in. And in that letter, He condescends to our puny brains and weak hearts to inform us, “God is love” (1 John 4: 8 and 16). He says, “I am love.” That’s the best we can do in answering the question, “Why Lord, why do You love us so?”

Have you ever pondered that question, “Why Lord, why do You love us so?” Have you personalized that question to, “Why Lord, why do You love me so?” All I can come up with in answer to that question is that, “God is love.” It’s His Holy Loving nature to love us. I know He is Just, and Righteous, and Omnipotent, and Omniscient, and Ever Present, full of Grace and Truth, but it’s really His love that enthralls me most. It’s His love that breaks me down and wears me out. It’s His love that grips me. It’s His love that overwhelms me.

The Apostle John referred to Himself as the Apostle “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). Some may initially think of John branding himself with some outstanding title with those words. I think they are simply words of near incredulity. The one who once was nicknamed a Boanerge or one of the “sons of thunder,” must have thought it incredible that Jesus loved him so much. When he described himself in his gospel account as “one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” I think it was in part because of the incredibleness of the truth of that statement. It’s as though John was saying, “I’m one of the disciples who Jesus loves; yes, even me; He loves me; thundering, blundering, me. I don’t completely know why, but it’s true, He loves even me.” That’s the way I feel. I’m too often thundering and way too often blundering. And I’m overwhelmed by the love of God. “Why Lord, why do You love me so? I’m thankful You just do. I don’t understand it. I certainly don’t deserve it. But I receive it and thank You for Your overwhelming love.”

What effect should this overwhelming love of God have on us? John, the one who Jesus loved, was inspired to write quite clearly:

  • 1 John 4:7–12 (NKJV) – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

Love is God’s invention, “love is of God.” “Wow! LORD, You are an incredible Inventor and Creator! Forgive my acts of unloving. Thank You for demonstrating Your love so vividly and magnificently in Jesus and His cross. Help me/us to “live through Him. Father, I know love isn’t about me loving but about You lovingly sending Jesus to satisfy Your just requirements for the forgiveness of my sins. Father, I know and admit that I ought to love more. I confess I am not as loving as I should be. Father, help me to love others, even my enemies. Father, I want to see You. I want to see You manifested in my love for others. Father, in Jesus name, in Your love, please perfect, complete, mature, realize Your love in me, by Your grace, in Your service, for Your glory, until Jesus returns.”

How do we know when we are loving the way God would love? Well, we will be loving like God loves when we find someone who doesn’t deserve to be loved, and we love them and they turn to us and say, “Why, why do you love me so?” Have you ever been loved like that? Have you ever loved someone like that? “Beloved, if God so love us, we also ought to love one another.”

How can this happen for us? How can we love like that, like God loves? We’re so messed up. I’m so messed up. We’re so unloving. I’m so unloving. We’re more prone to hate than love. I’m so prone to hate. Ah, but here the miraculous incredible stupendous glorious love of God is really shown. Love sacrifices. Love gives. And so, God gives His love away. He gives His love to us. That’s incredible! That’s awesome! That should bring you to tears.

God tells us in His word, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). Love is the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). The Holy Spirit teaches us to love. The Holy Spirit enables and empowers us to love. The “love of God” is incredibly poured out into our hearts when we are born again, when we accept Jesus as Savior by faith (John 3; Ephesians 2:1-9). Just think, the same love of God, “His own love” that He demonstrated when He sent Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), that love, that incredible overwhelming love is poured out into our heart upon receiving Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Incredible! Glorious! Hallelujah Lord!

“Lord, I don’t know if I’ll ever fully fathom why You love us, or love me so, but I am eternally grateful.” Truly, these Spirit inspired words are true, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “And truly, the only reasonable response to Your overwhelming love is to live in Your love.” Paul said, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). “Father, I have many questions to ask you, but the most important one is ‘Why Lord, why do you love us so?’ Father, help me to understand Your love. Father, help me to be compelled by Your love.” “Father, help me to live Your word that says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). “You loved me, so now I live. You loved me, so now I love. Why Lord, why do You love me so? Why Lord, why do You love us so?” We will spend eternity pondering the depths of the answer to those questions. “I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away, O, the overwhelming, never-ending, . . . love of God.” God’s love is in many ways incomprehensible. But thankfully, we know now, even if in part, “God is love.”

 

 

[1] By Cory Asbury – https://genius.com/Cory-asbury-reckless-love-lyrics