Loving our enemies has become mostly a nice platitude. We might accept it as a lofty idea, but it’s not generally a guiding principle of our daily lives. Common practice is simply to love those who already love us and to hate those who disagree with us.
And of course it’s only natural to do so. It’s much easier to do good to those we already like and despise those who treat us unjustly or have harmed us in some way.
And there’s not typically much expectation to do otherwise. No one condemns us for talking bad about someone who has mistreated us because it’s something we all do and expect.
But Jesus elevates the standard by teaching us to love our enemies.
Love here doesn’t require us to become best friends or develop warm feelings of affection toward each other. In fact, we may never come to like our enemy. But we’re still called to love.
To love starts with remembering their dignity as fellow image bearers of God. This truth remains regardless of whatever else they’ve done.
And this requires us to see beneath their sins and even our radical differences to the original glory God has given each of us.
In the end, we participate in God’s story of redemption when we love those who’ve hurt us or who might be on the other side of the aisle politically and socially.
However justified from a human perspective, contempt only breeds more contempt and division. It’s through the power of love we’re able to bridge many divides.
Love your enemies and change the world.