Our natural inclination in this world is to love those who treat us well and love us back but dislike or even hate those who treat us badly or do evil against us. Loving our enemies is an ethical command that comes to us from another world, a different kingdom than this one. Because this command can feel so unnatural to us, it is worth thinking on how loving our enemies is rooted in Gods own love for his enemies.
1. Christ served his enemies.
Christ loved his enemies by feeding them, teaching them, and having compassion on them even when he knew they would later kill him (Matt. 9:36; Matt. 12:15; Matt. 14:13-21).
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Jn. 3:16)
The world which is full of corrupt, sinful people who continually refuse to follow him is the very same world Christ was sent to reconcile and redeem (Jn. 15:18-25; Mk. 10:21-22). Even when Christ's disciples got agitated and attacked one of the men who had come to arrest Jesus, Jesus told his disciples to put away their swords (Matt. 21:56-58). Knowing that dwelling in God's presence is what humanity was created to do, Christ came to make that possible so that humanity could be reconciled to God and dwell in perfect goodness and happiness forever (Rom. 5:10). Christ came to earth to be a servant for the sake of his enemies so that they might know him and come to love him.
2. Christ prayed for his enemies.
With his dying breath, Jesus prayed for those who put him to death.
And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Lk. 23:34)
Christ would often go to isolated areas to pray, so we do not have recordings of many of his prayershis prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46), his prayer to his Father (Jn. 17), and this prayer on the cross. By praying for his enemies, he showed his great compassion and love for the world even while they hated and reviled him.
3. Christ died for his enemies.
Christ loves the world so much that he died a terrible and shameful death on a cross. (Rom. 5:10).
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Rom. 5:10)
In this way, Christ made all who believe in him no longer enemies but friends. Christ did all these things while people were still hating him even his own disciples disowned him but Christ poured out his very life for their sake.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:6-8)
We were once Christ's enemies, but he so loves us that he offers us healing, food to satisfy our hunger, and a share in his exalted and glorified life through union with his death and resurrection.