The first things to consider is who are enemies are. Let’s begin with who they are not. They are not ministers ordained by God to show us our sins. When something a pastor says makes you think he’s been reading your mail, and eavesdropping on your thoughts, that is the Holy Spirit using the pastor’s words to get through to you. The pastor is not your enemy when he points out your sins any more than the Holy Spirit is, for the pastor is only doing what God wants him to.
Rulers and those in authority are not our enemies either. They have been set up by God to administer justice and keep the peace. We may not agree with everything a politician stands for, or every decision the president makes, but they are not our enemies. Nor are people whom God brings into our lives to point out our faults. Sometimes God uses other Christians to show us where we err. But as Proverbs says, wounds from a friend can be trusted. Do not hate those who lovingly and gently point our your weaknesses, but let them guide you into more Christ like living.
Finally, people who disagree with us on some of the finer points of theology are not our enemies either. We may argue with each other. We may debate. But we are not enemies if we all hold to the basic tenants of evangelical Christian doctrine (inerrancy of Scripture, the deity, humanity, sinlessness and bodily resurrection of Christ, the Trinity, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone are some of the most basic).
Just because these sorts of people are not our enemies does not mean we should not love them. We are supposed to love all these people – the pastors, and parents, and politicians, and presidents, and policemen, and those who speak with prophetic voices into our lives – but they are not our enemies.
Our enemies are those who purposefully and knowingly seek our ill-will. They have bitterness and hate in their hearts against us. They do not seek our good, but only what is evil. It is these people we are to love.
Loving our enemies goes contrary to what feels right or normal. Loving our enemies is a challenging thing.
But understand what the word love means. It is the Greek verb agapao which is unconditional love. This means that we show love to them – no matter what – even if they remain our enemies for life.
Understand though, what loving our enemies does not mean. It doesn’t mean we support them in what they do, or agree with them, or even necessarily become good friends with them. Loving our enemies means that when they hate us, we love them in return. It means that the cycle of hate, the cycle of revenge, the cycle of retaliation stops with us. You can be angry at a person for what they do, and yet still love them. Jesus was upset at the people of Jerusalem for how they abused and murdered the prophets, and yet He still shed loving tears over the city. Jesus, as always, is our best example for how to live out such principles.
He never asks us to do something He has not already done Himself. As you read through the Gospels, notice how Jesus loves his enemies. Take Judas for example. Jesus wasn’t ignorant of who Judas was or what he was going to do, but Jesus loved Judas anyway. The next time you read through the Gospels, notice how Jesus interacts with Judas. He never slights Judas. Never has an unkind word for Him. It seems at times, that Judas gets better treatments and more special love from Jesus than some of the other disciples.
This is the same example we see from God. God loves His enemies. Maybe you’ll call me a heretic, but I believe that God loves Satan. He doesn’t love the things that Satan does. He doesn’t love the rebellion that Satan leads. He doesn’t love the horrible results of Satan’s actions. But I do believe that God loves Satan. The principles of Scripture lead to this conclusion. Furthermore, Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Two verses later, we are told that while were yet enemies of God, God reconciled us to Himself through the death of Jesus Christ.