I was struck with a thought this week when listening to a cover of the song “Reckless Love” performed by Red Rocks Worship. I’ve put the video in here, but the chorus goes, “Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights till I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away.” It got me thinking about love, and this concept of what love is, and is God’s love really this awesome that He would be like a shepherd and come looking for me, even if I’ve messed up and don’t deserve it?
When thinking about love, one can look at 1st Corinthians for an amazing look at what love is. In 1st Corinthians 13:4-8, it says:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
If this is love, its pretty awesome, right?! We always think of this verse as “the wedding verse”, but I want to look at it in another way. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” With that in mind, we can read the passage from 1 Corinthians as this:
God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.
To me, this sounds pretty amazing also. It reinforces that God is like our shepherd, that He will come and find us when we are lost.
In Luke 15, the same place where the parable of the shepherd is, there is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Quickly, a father’s youngest son claims his inheritance and goes off, spending the money and living a lavish, sinful lifestyle, until he realizes that he can’t do it anymore and comes back home. As the son approaches, although he is far away, the father drops what he is doing and runs to greet the son. He throws a huge party for he believed his son to be lost, but he had returned. In the parable, we are like the young son, reckless and carefree, moving away from God and living our own life, but it is amazing the party in heaven that is thrown when we come and give ourselves back to Him.
This love that God has for us is amazing. He would do anything for us, including sending His only Son to Earth in order so that He could die to forgive us for our sins. Something that, based on how we tend to be, we definitely do not deserve. When imagining God being like this, this patient, loving God, I think about Genesis, where it says in Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NIV). If I am created in God’s image, shouldn’t I be able to put my name into 1 Corinthians 13, and ensure that I am living my life like this? Could I think:
John is patient, John is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. John does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. John does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. John never fails.
These are pretty high standards to live up to. No matter how patient I try and be, I know that I get annoyed and become rude to others. For every person I am kind to, I know that I can be rude and disrespect someone else. There are so many examples where I fall short in these regards, there are too many to list here. How then, are we as imperfect people, supposed to live up to these expectations we have as people “created in God’s image?”
The easiest thing, and what I think was one of the things Paul was getting at with his letter to the Corinthians, is to love those around us. Love the person who cuts you off as you drive to work. Love those who do you wrong. Love the leaders of our churches, our communities, our cities, our nations. When we have love for others, we forgive our debtors, we protect, trust, and give hope to those around us. We can never fail.
I know that this can be a tall task. It is something I have to remind myself to do on a daily basis. God truly is amazing, and His love is the standard for which we should base our lives. We are imperfect, broken people. When we rest in God’s love, and remember to love those around us in return, who can stop us? We are able to live in Christ and follow His example, to take up our cross and follow Him. All we need is a little love.