There once was a “Pollyanna” side to me. In my head I thought that when Jesus said “love your enemies” that that would make them my friends. Life experiences have taught me that may never happen. I cannot always change a heart of animosity into a heart of good will, no matter how much I try to “love” them. I quickly learned that acts of kindness are frequently misinterpreted and build higher walls.

God knew this and yet He still loved.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ NIV)

Even though He knew that among those He loved some would choose to be enemies. Some would be offended and some would pervert everything Jesus said and everything Jesus did.

And yet Jesus pointed out that being his follower required a higher standard.

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 ‭5‬:‭47-48‬ NIV)

I am required to love both friend and enemy. Not human love no matter how noble minded, but love that comes from God who is Love.

He showed us by example what love is.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (‭1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬ NIV)

I am Pollyanna no more. I am a Christian struggling to love both friends and enemies without compromising the gospel, to be kind expecting no reward, to pray for friend and enemy. I am a person who realizes that some people have embraced evil so I struggle with how I can see them as God does, in chains, bound in a downward spiral to hell, to see them as people for whom Christ died.

When it becomes difficult, I look to Jesus own direction and remember his example.

“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. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭43-45‬ NIV)

So I am thankful that I have been loved by Christ and other Christians when I was bound up in myself and an enemy of the Cross. I am honored and grateful to be called to pray for both friend and enemy, but that like Jesus I do this with my eyes wide open, knowing evil for what it is a prison for the soul.