Answer: We know that God is love (1 John 4:8). We know that God loves the world (John 3:16). But does God love us as individuals? Does He love me, a sinner? Yes! Scripture is full of affirmations of God’s love for individuals.
In the Old Testament, we are not shown merely a history of a people group. We meet individual characters, ones with whom God spoke and interacted. Moses, Joseph, Jonah, Job, David, Esther, Ruth, Jabez, Hagar, and more. God cared about these individuals, some of whom were not even Israelites.
In the New Testament, we see God’s love take on skin. Salvation is the biggest demonstration of God’s love for each of us (1 John 3:16). Jesus humbled Himself not only by taking on human flesh, but by allowing Himself to be brutally murdered for sins we committed (Philippians 2:5-8). He did this with joy (Hebrews 12:2). And He did it while we were still dead in our sins (Romans 5:6-11; Colossians 2:13). We did not impress God or cajole Him into saving us. Salvation is completely from His heart of love. Jesus became sin that we might become righteous; He granted us new life (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21). He saved us for a purpose. We are called God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:8-10). Part of that purpose is to share the love of Christ with others.
One beautiful picture of that love is Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. It was a task for a lowly servant to scrub the mud-caked feet of house guests. After doing it, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Jesus was interested in showing love not only to His disciples, but to other people. He healed many; He provided food for the hungry; He spoke to the outcasts of the day, even a Samaritan woman (John 4). Jesus loved people on an individual basis. His ministry was not publicly broadcast, but carried out one-on-one. He chose a group of twelve disciples, an inner circle of three. He spoke to the individuals He healed. He did not exclude those who were not Israelites, but shared His love with whoever would receive.
Perhaps one of the most touching passages in the Bible is John 17, which records what is sometimes called the High Priestly Prayer. In it, Jesus prayed for His disciples. He also prayed for future believers – us. Before His crucifixion we were on Christ’s mind. Not in a negative way or a blaming way. He thought about us and prayed “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:21-26). Jesus wants us to be united with one another, to be united with Him, to be with Him, to know Him, and to experience His love. This is not a prayer aimed at the world or at a group of nameless faces. It is a prayer about individuals.
Reading God’s Word is an excellent way to discover His love for us. Look at some of what He says below:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven … (Matthew 10:30-32)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 37-39)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)