I got in an argument with some Christians who say God does not love the lost. He only loves Christians. This almost shakes my entire perspective because, if God hates sinners, then He hates some of my friends, and He even hated me at one point in my life. I know this is not a life or death question, but it is hard walking with Christ when you are confused by things like this. I was taught God loved me before He saved me. If this is wrong, how do I know the other things I was taught are true? Please help.
I have also entered into a debate on this with a friend. It's sad that some would say, God doesn't love the lost, for the Bible teaches that God loves all of His creation ... and especially man who was created in His image. While man is no longer fully in His image, because we are born in the image of Adam (Genesis 5:3), man is still the crowning glory of all God's creation (Psalm 8:5). Plus, if lost people hear this said, it will hinder their understanding that our God is love and He desires all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Let us remember a very precious verse that clearly reveals God's love for all mankind:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
This verse tells that He "loved the world" enough to give His Son to live on this earth and to die for mankind. Who is "the world?" Throughout the Bible, "the world" is used to denote lost people. It is the unregenerate sinner. While we were yet sinners, God sent Jesus into this world to seek and save the lost. The gift of Jesus to the world clearly demonstrates God's love for the lost.
People often use the verse from Romans 9:13 to support the idea that God does not love the lost:
"As it is written [Malachi 1:3], Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Romans 9:13).
How should we as 21st century Christ followers understand this verse?