The Audacity of Christianity: Some Thoughts on Reckless Love

1. boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.
2. effrontery or insolence; shameless boldness.
There’s a new Christian song making the rounds called Reckless Love, by Cory Asbury. At first, I didn’t like it. Disregarding the problems with using the word “reckless” to describe God, the song just seemed so, entitled? Maybe even audacious? Me-centered?
“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!”
And I’m been fairly critical of the “Jesus is my boyfriend” kinds of worship songs in the past. They’re not my favorite. However. . .
I couldn’t get this song out of my head, particularly because I’ve been thinking a lot about how audacious Christianity really is. Think: the God of the universe becomes human in Jesus, to redeem and restore you and I. We’re adopted into his family based on faith in Jesus. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
If these claims aren’t striking us as audacious, we may have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement or accomplishment. Entitlement because we might think God owes us salvation, love, care, and concern based on who we are. Accomplishment because we might think God owes us based on what we’ve done, how we’ve lived, the sacrifices we’ve made. Neither of these things is true.
An Audacious Woman
I’m reminded of the story in Mark 7. “But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.” -Mark 7:25-26
So a non-Jewish woman is repeatedly asking Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus’ response seems a little harsh: “27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” In other words, Jesus is saying that his mission is currently directed towards the people of Israel. But this woman isn’t having it:
“But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs. And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” -Mark 7:27-28
Tim Keller calls her response: “a rightless assertiveness” as if she’s saying: “Lord, give me what I don’t deserve on the basis of your goodness–and I need it now.” She doesn’t appeal to rights or entitlement, nor does she try and earn this. As Keller notes, she recognizes Jesus’ goodness and audaciously claims it for her daughter.
An Audacious Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is a bit like that too. Think about the opening line: “Our Father. . .” Jesus teaches us to pray in this way. But to call the God of the cosmos, Father, Pops, Daddy-o, seems a bit pretentious when you really think about it, doesn’t it? A familiarity far too flippant for the holy, transcendent One?
N.T. Wright says this in his book on the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a bit of a read but very worth it.
“We too need to learn what it means to call God Father. And we mustn’t be surprised when we find ourselves startled by what it means. The one thing you can be sure of with God is that you can’t predict what he’s going to do next. That’s why calling God Father is the great act of faith of holy boldness, of risk. Saying “our Father”. . .is the boldness, the sheer, total risk, of saying quietly, ‘please may I too be considered an apprenticed son?’ [like Jesus]. Jesus wanted people to discover who the Father really was by seeing what he, Jesus, was doing. When we call God Father, we are making the same astonishing, crazy, utterly risky, claim. . .Our task is to grow up into the “Our father,” to dare to impersonate our elder brother, seeking daily bread and daily forgiveness as we do so. To wear his clothes, to walk in his shoes, to feast at his table, to weep with him in the garden, to share his suffering, and to know his victory. As our savior Jesus Christ has commanded and taught us by his life and death, even more than by his words, we are bold, very bold. Even crazy, some might think, to say: Our Father.”
Hard to beat that. The mysterious author to the Hebrews probably says it best though:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:14-16
Next time you think that God owes you something, or that you owe God something, remember the audacity of Christianity:

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
-Romans 5:8

We truly don’t deserve it, and truly didn’t earn it, and still he gave himself away. Overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, indeed.