In Jesus’ teaching, one important thing that distinguishes his followers from others is the practice of loving one’s enemies. Yet there is no more reinforcement to do this in our culture than there was in Jesus’ day. Loving enemies is counter to what we are taught by prominent attitudes around. Most books and movies deal with enemies by wiping them out. We expect enemies to “get their due.” We think of enemies as “less than human.” We have to because it is harder to hate or wish suffering or death or ill on those who may be not all that different than we are.
In his sermon on the mount, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:43-48)
This is one of those difficult teachings. Yet it is filled with hope. Everyone is worthy of God’s love. Everyone can change. Each day is a new day, and you never know when an enemy may just become a friend, through the power of Christ.