By S.C. Shaw
I started a series of blogs where I will look into various worship songs and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of what we are singing in church. With that being said, I don’t want these blogs to be seen as a high and mighty naysayer giving his opinion. So let me say this, most of these songs we sing and will continue to sing in my church. I may change or add things to have a clear conscience about leading them, but not all are “all bad”, but I feel the need to give a voice to the unclear. And I pray this influences more leaders to pic songs more intentionally. What we sing in church matters.
First and foremost we must always ask the questions: “How does this song help the Word of God dwell richly within me?” And, “Does this song glorify God in Biblical truth?”Reckless Love (The Good, the Bad, the Ugly) Lyrics in full 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) Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, 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 Oh, 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) 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 (Chorus) This is a song that has been well disputed in the Christian world since the day it came out in 2018. It has been the subject of many conversations and social media blasts because it deserves to be. Not because the greatness of it, but because the need for clarity within it. I remember I didn’t like this song the first time I heard it because it was weak theologically and unclear biblically. I am one that believes that all corporate congregational worship songs should follow a certain guideline. That guideline being able to answer these simple questions; Does this song “Let the word of Christ dwell in me richly?” And, “Does this song glorify God in Biblical truth?”I know even that statement can be up for interpretation. Let’s start there. First of all, here’s the whole verse, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” Ephesians 5:19. There aren’t many verses in the Bible that talk about worship in the style of singing. At least not in the order of command or instructions on how to execute and guidelines for a corporate worship song. However, we are told to worship in “Spirit and in truth” John 4:24. And contextually, the Bible leaves no room for less than excellent worship to God. So we must, as leaders in the church and even part of the church body, strive to be as intentional as we can to be God-honoring, Christ exulting and Holy Spirit empowered in everything we do. Unfortunately, I fear we are more driven by comfort, habit, and survival. Let me explain. Comfort is easy for just that reason, it’s comfortable. It takes thought, planning and effort to step out of the easy and comfortable place we find ourselves in each week. Habit comes alongside of “comfort”. Habit is taking what we are comfortable with and letting autopilot take over. This is a terrible place to be when we have the Gospel of God to proclaim. And survival is what every person on a Sunday morning experiences at some point if not the main point. When we are in survival mode we are showing up and trying to get through the day. “There’s much more to be concerned with than this Sunday morning meeting” Is easy to tell ourselves. That means if you’re part of the church staff or part of the gathered body, we all experience this. Our goal here is to be intentional enough to experience this as little as possible. To be preparing our hearts and minds all week, to come together on the Lord’s day and experience the multitude of blessings that are given and received. I bring all this up because this isn’t an issue concerning a less than an accurate song. It has to do with a mindset for Christ and desiring God enough to long for faithful service in a powerful way to aid His children in being in awe of Him more and more. The song at hand is lacking in many ways but has some strengths as well. Let’s start positive. The Good: I have lead this song once in my 15 years of leading music at church. I lead it for a youth program at my church. I threw it in as I was trying to show my heart to submit to my pastor and play more popular worship songs. This is not my strong suit, but as I grow in Christ I want to be more and more like Christ and submission is a big one. Turns out the night I lead this song was a very powerful moment. I was surprised. I did change the bridge to an old hymn, which made me feel better about playing it and helped the clarity of the song in a biblical mindset. The song is written very congregationally which is its strongest point. But since then I have had a growing concern about this song. I have been silent for a couple years now but must start sharing my convictions. So let us tear this one open for a bit. Reckless Love (The Good, the Bad, the Ugly) First verse: 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 (This is a beautiful thought of the mightiness of our God who has created us and is sovereign over us since before we were created anything.) The Bad: (Chorus): Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God (I’m on board with the overwhelming thought of God’s love. In fact, everything we ponder about God should be overwhelming. There is never a time to see and behold God in any way and say, “cool.” God is weighty, big and awesome. When we get to “never-ending” though I have issues. I can see how God’s love at times can seem reckless to us because Gods ways are higher than our ways. And Gods love is indeed never-ending for His children. But much of the time Gods love is quite simple and clear, not seeming reckless at all.) Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine (I do appreciate the main idea here, of, God seeks us, not, we chase God, which is a popular theme of some unhelpful worship songs. God seeks His children and saves them even as they are pursuing sin. And even after our conversion we still are prone to wonder. But once we have trusted in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are found, never to be lost again. Sure, even the redeemed can experience a time of falling back or being caught up in various sins for a time, but God can never lose the “one’s” He has chosen to save. And that slip of sin does not last forever. Christ Himself is sustaining His people and He is mighty to save. Plus I’m not convinced the majority of Christians would even get the reference of “the 99”.) I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away (Again, love this thought. This is the most biblical you can get. The wretchedness of man and the holiness of God. That is the Gospel! We can do nothing to earn it and we certainly don’t deserve it. “You give Yourself away” is one of those grey lines. It’s not technically wrong, but it seems wrong focused in the context of the song. As if the driving power of Gods love is us. We are not the main thing to God, God is the main thing to God. He does all for His own glory first and foremost. That’s the main thing wring in this song. There’s no sense of the glory of God.) 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 (Again, solid verse. Glorifying God in His greatness and not ours.) (Chorus) The Ugly: 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 (The bridge is less than wanting. I see the point trying to be made here but it wasn’t given enough time or care to stay biblical. The song strays from the biblical point. The glory appears to be to God still but the focus is clear, “We are so precious and important, God cares only for us and nothing else.” The biblical reality is that God is all-powerful, mighty, glorious, perfect, holy, never changing and sufficient without any one of us ever adding or giving Him anything. On top of that, the most important thing to God is His own glory. This is what drives everything about Him. It drives everything He does. His glory is an attribute of His attributes. He isn’t most concerned with us. We aren’t first on His mind. He is. In fact, the first name we get for God is “I am” in Genesis 3:14. He is saying, “I Am everything that is important. I Am the first and the last, the beginning and the end. The King of kings and the Lord of lords. I am what I glorify above all else. I seek my own glory before all” (Writers commentary). This can be hard to hear, but for the child of God, this is where we get our assurance and security. God’s glory is so important because nothing can break His character, His will, plan, goodness, holiness or love for His chosen. What else could be placed before Gods glory? Nothing, hallelujah! This jealousy He has for His own is what gives us eternal life and hope for everything. So, to minimize all this to “kicking down walls, because He loves us more than anything,” is not ok.) So what do we do with a song like this? Some try to change words or add things to it as I did, but we must stop and ask, “why?” Why so much work to play this song, or songs like it? Because you sound really good at singing it? Your band really preforms it well? Because your church loves it? Because you want to be relevant to people? None of these reasons are biblical and we are playing on dangerous ground when we give in to this way of thinking. There are so many great songs to choose from. Branch out and seek the hundreds of great songs written well and supremely biblical to truly strengthen your church rather than stretching to make an emotionally driven song work because you perform it well. We can all get complacent when all we are hearing are these types of songs. Seek out other, less well-known bands and music teams. There is some fantastic music being created that is not being heard. With all this being said I feel I must mention this; the main worship team at my church plays this song. I have mentioned that I have played this song before and would again if my pastor asked. These are just my convictions about the faithfulness in our music in church. I am not the final word nor think that I should have any authority over you because after all, this is just my opinion. After all this talk, read through the words of this other song. Sometimes the best way to see what is wrong is to compare and contrast. This is the clear dynamics and distinction between amazing and average or false. Note here, there are many old and new hymns I could throw down, but to keep this all contemporary let’s choose something newer and in the style of the current culture. Grace and Peace (Sovereign Grace Music) Performed by (The Shaws) Live Version Grace and Peace Grace and peace, oh how can this be For lawbreakers and thieves, for the worthless, the least You have said that our judgment is death For all eternity without hope, without rest (Chorus) Oh, what an amazing mystery, what an amazing mystery That Your grace has come to me Grace and peace, oh how can this be? The matchless King of all paid the blood price for me Slaughtered lamb, what atonement You bring! The vilest sinner’s heart can be cleansed, can be free (Chorus) Grace and peace, oh how can this be? Let songs of gratefulness ever rise, never cease Loved by God and called as a saint My heart is satisfied in the riches of Christ (Chorus) Bridge: Oh, what an amazing love I see, what an amazing love I see That Your grace has come to me, Your grace has come! (Chorus) Did you catch a difference in focus, reference, and reverence? I have tested this kind of thing on myself on many occasions. I begin to make rationales for what I would like to do and then get set straight by something solid like these words. The focus is on God and His greatness, not our desperate needs or emotional desires. Before the “naysayer” comments begin. Let me say this. There is nowhere in the Bible that is written to the individual. The New Testament was written to the church. On top of that, when we are given a charge and or encouragement in corporate worship, it is always given with a reason and point for that charge. God speaks action. And that reason is always God-focused, not our desires or emotional intentions towards Christ. Very few times does the bible refer to us loving God (at least in the Psalms). But, it mentions God’s love for us hundreds of times. Does this mean we are not special? No, this means all glory to God because He is our everything, our all and deserves all. Our only good is Christ in us. Here is a blog I did after attending Bob Kauflin’s “Worship Intensive.” Some great take a ways and very on point with what I am talking about. Worship Intensive Blog Closing. Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. MisfitMinistry.com TikTok @misfitministry Instagram @themisfitministry Facebook.com