God is Love.
We hear that a lot. People insist that a loving God can't send people to hell. In suffering people cry out, "How could a loving God do this?"
Is our idea of love the same as God's? I am not so sure, tho I believe we like to think we are that good and that amazing.
But God loves wider and longer than I do...
He doesn't just love those who love Him. He loves those who reject Him, those who hurt Him repeatedly, those who ignore Him, those who are unlike Him. He even seeks these people whereas I would just stick with the people I knew cared about me. His love began at the beginning and continues. My love, well, as embarrassing as it may be to admit, can be a little fickle. I won't defend it as a "girl's prerogative," since I think it has more to do with a carnal prerogative.
He loves higher and deeper than I do...
He loves me despite all the times I rejected Him outright, when I heard His voice but plugged my ears, when I purposely hurt Him and attacked His children to persuade them they were deluded. I struggle to forgive those who hurt me, but He forgives and lovingly forgets.
I, of my own power, love when it is easy, when I am in a good mood, when I am loved back, when I am well rested. I don't think Paul wrote this passage just to say God's love is awesome. Any of us who have experienced His grace knows that. What if the reason Paul writes all this is to let us know that, if, as the beginning of verse 17 suggests that Christ dwells in our hearts, where love originates, our ability to love should grow into godly loving.
Thru Christ, I can love the unlovely, the ones that hurt me, those that ignore me cruelly, people who live in that part of town, who make that choice, the undeserving, those who cannot accept love because they believe themselves to be unlovable. Thru Christ, my love becomes steadfast, urgent, sustaining and sustainable, restorative, even when, particularly when, there is nothing in it for me.
Thru Christ, I can love with a love that brings unity to what was shattered, light where there was darkness, healing to wounds, modesty where there was impurity, submission where there was dominance, order to chaos, strength replaces weakness, and grace relieves us of despair.
Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. Eph 6:24