The people we consider to be our enemies are image-bearers of God just as we are. They are not our enemies, none of them. That seems wrong, counterintuitive? What we fail to understand is that God loves our enemies every bit as much as he does us.
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10
Christ died for his enemies, our enemies. Even as he died, he prayed for his enemies. Christ has been our mediator with God the Father sin the Fall in Eden. That mediatorship has placed grace and mercy between us and God the Father. God the Father in his perfect Holiness cannot abide by our sinful nature, it is only through Christ we live and are forgiven.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
You and I are caught between two realms that intersect, the physical realm and the spiritual realm. The Kingdoms of the World comprise physical powers and principalities in which we have physical conflicts. However the Spiritual Realm, the Invisible Realm overlaps ours, The Kingdom of God does not have physical enemies. God has made it clear.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 1 John 5:19
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours… Luke 4:5-7.
The entity we know as Satan (aka Lucifer, the Accuser, etc.) was given a limited amount of authority over the nations and people of the is world. In this period of almost but not yet God the Father has permitted Satan and his army of fallen angels to do certain things. We do not know the rules of engagement as God has deemed it unnecessary that we do.
Demonic forces seek to cause death to Christ's image-bearers. One way they do this is to get us to kill each other which he has done very successfully. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15
He can cause disease as well:
.and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and... Luke 13:7-13
The bible says Death is our enemy.
Enemy love is central to our faith. Unfortunately, we have been totally brainwashed by culture, and the thing that is central to our faith we consider to be offensive and untenable.
All of us dehumanize people. Those people from ISIS, for example, a serial killer, a rapist, pedophile, etc. The fact is they were all born, had parents, grew up, they ate and drank, they have their own life stories. They are human and as the Bible indicates they are also made in the image of God and he loves them. When we hate someone who has done terrible things, we hate another human. Our world is not black and white, good, and bad. All these people young and old that are convicted of crimes still need compassion and still need the Lord.
Remember Jeffrey Dahmer? Many felt Dahmer’s baptism and faith were not genuine. He was being judged not by his faith, but by his crimes. Christians were looking for a way to reject Jeffrey as a brother in Christ instead of seeing him as a sinner who has come to God. They didn’t want to think of Jeff as a brother. Such ungraciousness is contrary to the Christian spirit. Dahmer had weekly visits from his pastor in prison and even acknowledge he had broken God’s laws and deserved death.
Miroslav Volf says in Exclusion and Embrace, “If you want justice and nothing but justice, you will inevitably get injustice. If you want justice without injustice, you must want love.”
How can you and I ever hope to affect the tide of terrorism, shootings at schools, malls, workplaces, and Churches if these actions are committed by demons and monsters? Well, we can’t.
The reality is we are dealing with humans which means we can have hope. Hope that our messages of love and acceptance and peace can and will be heard. Hope that God can redeem even the worst of sinners, our indwelling sins our deep, dark sins.
Do you hate someone in your heart, if you do then reconciliation starts with prayer “God, I hate that person, help me not to?” C.S. Lewis has said, “Prayer doesn’t change God—it changes me.” Praying for your enemy allows the Holy Spirit to be at work in your heart.
Loving your enemy does not mean they are now your best friend, nor do you excuse their actions. It means you forgive them, with the knowledge that God is both merciful and just. Jesus faced grave injustice with his sacrifice. Through prayer, forgiveness, empathy, mercy in our hearts, go forth to address injustice in our time by the courage not to demand retribution or revenge, but instead to repay injury with a blessing and hate with love.