I was in conversation with a good friend over our experience with the people we encounter and it reminded me about this teaching on loving our enemies.
"But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (v.39) Jesus taught us that even though we are insulted, we should not be thinking of retaliation, but to take their well-being in mind and adjust our actions that will point them to Christ. (Hughes, Sermon on the Mount, 2001)
"And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well." (v.40) Jesus taught us that even if we are being ripped off, we are to act radically as far as to offer him more so that they will be bewildered and ultimately see Christ in us.
"And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." (v.41) Jesus taught that even though we are being compelled to do what is expected of us, we should do it joyfully and putting our best and our whole heart in it.
These are tough things to do for our enemies, people who hates us, who wants nothing but our ruin. But it is not only how we are to do those things but how we can do them wisely.
This has also reminded me of a quote from the book Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them...I destroy them.”This is quite a powerful statement and I agree with it except for the last three words.
We do indeed need to understand our enemies and I find that when we come to really understand what they want and what they believe, and when we see them through the eyes of Jesus, we will love them for they are but fallen and in need of Christ, we will pray for them, and hope that the very holiness of God will "destroy" them and restore them.
So, how do we interpret "loving our enemies"? I do not think it is to invite them to sup with us, to allow them into our inner lives, but to love them is to know them, to understand them and to pray for them.
Easier said than done obviously, but it is what Jesus expects of us.