From Thomas J Oord’s new book The Nature of Love:
“We love because [God] first loved us,” says John (1 Jn. 4:19). God first loving us should not refer primarily to what God has done in the distant past. The idea God first loves should refer primarily to God acting first in any particular moment to make possible our love in response. This idea is what theologians often call “prevenient grace.” It says God’s loving action comes before and makes possible out free response. God is a personal and causal being to whose call loving creatures can respond appropriately. Creatures could not love if our relational God were not the Lover who initially empowers, inspires, and beckons them.