Is the phrase, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," a method of evangelism misused by the Christian or misinterpreted by the unbeliever?
It would be an understatement to say that carnal man is at war with God. That means that a sinful human being can and will take any opportunity to wreck the work of the Lord. Which is why I need to make this point about this very widely used phrase in evangelism that is often misused.
Obviously, God does not love sin, otherwise there wouldn't be any charges to repentance anywhere in the Bible. Our sin is what causes us to be at war with God, so to lay them down and flee from them is to love God instead. Salvation is conditional upon being born again through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, but God's love for you is without condition. We need to move away from just telling people God loves them and instead show them God loves them.
In a kitchen, a person who is well trained with cooking techniques can be given verbal instructions on how to prepare a dish and they'll be able to execute it as intended. However, someone who isn't trained very well in the techniques of cooking will mess up whatever instructions are given because they don't understand it in the first place. For the novice, they must be shown as well as told. That way they can make the connection between what's being said and what's being done.
Therefore, to the Christian, "God loves you," has a completely different meaning than it does to the non-Christian. To the non-Christian, "God loves you," means, "God is ok with your sinful lifestyle. Just keep doing what you're doing, God doesn't mind..." It means that to the non-Christian because they WANT it to mean that. They want to continue living in their sinful life because it's comfortable to them. They want it so bad that even the truth will be twisted in their minds to fit how they want it. The last thing a non-Christian wants to be told is that their lifestyle is putting them in danger. That's why we have persecution!
"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:19
"And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your << mind>> by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled..." Colossians 1:21
Here's how it works:
Intention- You want to do something.
Temptation- That something presents an opportunity to do it.
Execution- You do it.
Conviction- Your conscience pulls at you telling you it was wrong.
Justification- You make excuses as to why it was ok for you to do it.
Accusation- You curse God for having too high of standards.
Condemnation- You harden your heart against God and your conscience grows weak, which leads you right back to the first step.
Just because someone's your enemy doesn't mean you have to hate them, it usually means they hate you. Yet Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Why did He tell us to do that? Because God loved us first even while we were at war with Him.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
Do you understand what this means? This means that we're still unable to save ourselves, there is no inherit good in us that moved God to save us. God didn't hate us, we hated God! Yet God still loves us so much that He paid the ultimate price on the Cross through Jesus Christ! The thought of this should move you to show love to those around you.
Until we as Christians understand that God currently loves us and still loved us even when we were at war with Him, our witness will lack power. I know of Christians out there who actually believe that God doesn't actually love anyone at all and that it was just some sort of merciful obligation for Jesus to die on the Cross for our sins. What kind of message is that to someone who loves their sin? Therefore, remember, God loves you and you need to show that same love to the world.
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Colossians 4:6