The Gospel can be summed up in this phrase: adoption through propitiation (props to J.I. Packer).
The New Testament gives us two ways to measure God's love for us. In doing so, it talks about how great His love is and how He lavished it on us. The first way is the cross. The second way is sonship (or daughtership) through adoption. In the reading today, we see both.
First, the cross is found in 1 John 4.10. God loved us before we loved Him. That's huge right there, because it shows just how not-in-the-middle-of-God's-story we really are. We didn't wake up and decide to love Him, attracting His affection for us with our beauty and magnificence and splendor and faithfulness. We were none of those things and God still chose to love us - in fact, in spite of who we were, God chose to love us. And it wasn't some emotional belch as our culture knows love, but a demonstrative pursuit of the ones beloved. Here, in the cross, God sacrificed His Son, Jesus the Christ, for us to demonstrate His love (cf. Romans 5.6-8). John uses the word propitiation (in the ESV). Propitiation is the sacrifice that expiates our sin, taking it away from us, and satiates God's wrath against that sin. As a just and holy God, He had to punish our sin. He did so, but did so in the person of Jesus Christ as our substitute, our propitiation. That's a powerful demonstration of love.
Second, sonship is found in 1 John 3.1. I appreciate the texture of the Message: "What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it - we're called children of God! That's who we really are." We are objects of lavish love. It's extravagant, embarrassing even. We, the deceived rebels of the universe, are adopted into God's family as His children. That is astonishing. And it's so astonishing, John repeats it for assurance: that is what we are. It's not enough that God took away our sin and the wrath that accompanied it - He made us His kids. Wow.
I hope you lived stunned. I'm going to be thinking about this all day...