In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. The difficulty in this is that there is a reason our enemies are our enemies! But loving our enemies is part of spiritual growth in becoming like Christ, and there are several good reasons why we should obey this command, even if we struggle with it.
1. Jesus did it.
One of the most moving scenes in the Gospels for me is when, after a crowd arrives to arrest Jesus and Peter cuts off the ear of one of them, Jesus takes the time to rebuke Peter and to heal the ear of the injured man (Luke 22:50-51). Later, Jesus prays to God, asking that those who were killing him would be forgiven (Luke 23:34).
2. It reflects the character of God.
In Jesus' teaching about loving enemies in Matthew 5:45, he pointed to the character of God, who demonstrates impartiality to all people, regardless of how they treat him. On the basis of this, he calls upon us to love our enemies, and in doing so, to act like children of our Father in heaven. In other words, when we love our enemies, we reflect the character of God.
3. It is evangelistic.
It is in this reflecting of God's character that loving our enemies might be evangelistic. We do not know what our prayers for or loving actions towards our enemies might accomplish in their lives. We do not know how those who witness such gracious acts might respond. All we know is that Jesus has called us to model this behavior.
Paul wrote that while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through Jesus (Romans 5:10). God loved us while we were his enemies. Can we love our enemies for him?