Believe it or not, some Christians keep a list of people who can be righteously hated and even put to death, in spite of Jesus’ commands to love our enemies and bless those who hate us.
Usually those who fall into this exceptional category are criminals, terrorists, enemies of the state, homosexuals, and abortionists.
Frankly, many Christians have their own private list of who can be/should be put to death. It might be a an ex-spouse, a person who abused them in the past, a drunk driver who took away their loved one, or the umpire who blew the call that ended their team’s chances at a national championship.
This means that those terrorists you’d like to see burned alive are within reach of God’s grace. Why destroy them before they have an opportunity to know Christ who can transform their hearts?
It reminds me of Jesus’ own disciples who asked “Shall we call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” in reference to a Samaritan village that refused to have Jesus travel through it on his way to Jerusalem. The response Jesus gave to these disciples is the same as what he would say to Christians today who yearn to rain down destruction on anyone: “You do not know what kind of Spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (John 9:54-56)
Loving our enemies is hard, of course. Our old nature is quick to crave violence and retribution. But Jesus has given us a new nature and a new spirit.
If we really hope to love our enemies, we have to first admit that we do not have access to this kind of love. This sort of unconditional love is just not in us by nature. The closest we can ever come is the love a parent has for a child. But even that example (as profound as it may be) falls short of the extravagant love that God wants to fill us with.
God’s love just “is”. It’s not dependent upon anything the person does, or does not do. And that’s why Jesus can tell us that, if we are abiding in Him, and if He is alive in us, then we will be connected to the constant, eternal flow of Divine Love that flows from the heart of the Trinity and outward into every corner of the Universe. We become conduits of His endless love and therefore everyone around us becomes illuminated in the light of His unconditional love.