As Orthodox Christians, we must do our best to imitate Christ. Part of imitating Christ includes loving our enemies. Christ calls us to love everyone, not just those who love us in return. He tells us to do so in order that we may learn to love as He loves: an unconditional love towards all, which is a lasting, permanent love. As well, loving those who hurt us, rather than striking back, is a great way to help destroy our passions. In this article, Fr Anastasios Hudson further explains the importance of loving one’s enemies.
The command of God to love one’s enemy is meant to teach us how to truly love; a love that is not just based on reciprocity. It’s not just an emotion that we are seeking to learn, but a way of life, an approach towards people that sees everyone as a child of God, no matter how bad they are, and frees us from judgment.
Remember that all people are created in the image of God; we have lost the likeness through sin, but the image is still there. When God looks at us, He sees a bit of Himself in each person, no matter how they have disfigured the likeness. Our goal as Christians is to become like God, which involves our patient acceptance of trials and our demonstrating love towards our enemies, as God Himself did.