Frankly, I can't think of single person who I believe is my enemy, someone who hates me personally, wishes me harm, or would hurt me if he/she could. So does that mean I'm off the hook when Jesus commanded us to "love your enemies", in Matt 5:44? I don't think so.
There are people who clearly are enemies of God, people like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens who have made it their full time job to prove there is no God and if there was, that diety would be way more loving than Christians claim he is. Since God is my spiritual father, his enemies are now my enemies.
Then there are others who are simply enemies of biblical worldviews, like those who are pro- abortion, want the freedom and God's blessing to marry someone of the opposite sex, or to educate our children with ideas antithetical to a biblical worldview. These people don't generally hate God, you, or me personally, but many dislike Christians in general and Evangelicals in particular. And in todays political climate the common assumption is that all or most Evangelicals are Republicans. These "enemies" are working day and night to make sure our "outdated" ideas of ethics, sex and life never again hinder their right, or anyone else's right to behave any way they want as long as it doesn't hurt others. So, what does it mean to "love" those kinds of enemies?
The first challenge is that Jesus does not just leave us with "love your enemies" in the sense we are to tolerate them and not retaliate against them. He commanded this as well;
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." -Matthew 5:11-12.
"But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." -Matthew 5:39
"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." -Matthew 5:41-48
The doctrine of Common Grace, that God gives good things even to his enemies has its roots in the Matthew 5:41-48 verses above and elsewhere. Even Hitler and Osama Ben Laden had some good days, enjoyed walks in the sunshine, clean water and good food. So, if God is kind and gives even his enemies some good things, what does that mean for us as Christians for those who oppose a biblical worldview?
We have to remind ourselves that these enemies have no idea they are enemies of God. Most would never even consider that possibility. I Corinthians 2:14 says this, "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things of the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." This verse tells us clearly that these people will never understand the wisdom and authority of God because they are not born-again. So don't expect them to see the value of an idea from God.
Christians may not personally attack individuals. We may and should call out untrue statements they might make, or even bad ideas they espouse. And we have a right to say why we believe they are wrong. However, we aren't allowed to dishonor and belittle our ideological enemies. Nor should we tolerate other Christians when they personally attack others. That means when you and I are with Christian friends, guide the conversations back to the ideas you believe in and do not join in slandering others. " Let you gentleness be evident to all."
Christians are required to pray for those who oppose us. I don't think this simply means we ought to pray for our enemies to change their minds. We need to pray for their good, for their salvation. We need to beg God to forgive them in the spirit of Jesus asking God to forgive the soldiers who were nailing him to the cross.
4. Be careful where you get your news. Too much "news" today are really only opinions. Be wary of opinion-shapers who tempt you to, or ask you to be angry also. Listen to them too long and you'll become like them.
5. Take time to think about how you can present your best arguments for what you believe. I'll sometimes write a paragraph or two
clarifying what I believe and why and practice saying it to myself driving my car so that I'm ready to answer those who think differently.
6. Listen to at least one secular podcast a week. I listen to NPR daily. Why? Because I want to know what liberals believe about issues I
feel strongly about, which forces me to think of a thoughtful, biblical response, other than just calling them liberals.
Please take a few minutes to reflect on who you've labeled your enemy. Is the Holy Spirit calling you to think differently about them?