"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you ..." (Luke 6:27-28)

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:27-28)
This is a clear instruction from Jesus to his followers. Has this instruction been followed over the centuries by those institutions who claimed to have been following Jesus?

Has this been followed by all the institutions claiming to follow Jesus?

How about the Roman Catholic Church? How about when the Roman Catholic Church violently enforced the Creed of Nicea by burning people at the stake? How about when entire libraries and their owners were burnt down during the 3rd and 4th Centuries? How about when tens of thousands of Donatists - who did not accept the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church - were persecuted for "heresy?" How about when Roman Catholics burnt at the stake anyone who did not accept their doctrines?

Were these institutions - who claimed to be followers of Jesus - following this instruction by Jesus?

How about the missionaries who sailed around the world for centuries, burning down villages and killing innocent natives of various island nations - calling them "heathens"? Were they following this instruction by Jesus?

How about the Inquisitions of the 12th-century (Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis) wherein thousands of "heretics" were imprisoned and tortured, and sometimes executed for their beliefs? Were they following this instruction by Jesus?

How about the Crusades, during which millions of people were attacked and killed by sectarian knights because their victims did not believe in the Church's interpretations and the supremacy of the pope? Were they following this instruction by Jesus?

Through the centuries, these institutions and their followers have waged a campaign of intolerance and terror among those who did not agree with their philosophy. Yet they have claimed to be followers of Jesus. Were they?

This statement by Jesus sheds a clear light on whether they were followers of Jesus. This statement above by Jesus provides to us the litmus of the true follower of Jesus, as opposed to fanatics, who Jesus himself described:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
Fanatical sectarian institutions and their teachers have obviously ignored Jesus' statement over the centuries. Those who, for 1,000 years of Roman Catholic rule over Europe, persecuted people and burned people at the stake who did not follow the way they did obviously ignored this statement by Jesus.

What is Jesus communicating to his followers?

Jesus is communicating to his followers not just tolerance of others, and mercy for others - but love for those who hate us. This love is independent of their hatred for us, what they believe, or what they do.

Consider the difference between love and tolerance. We might easily tolerate someone who has disdain for us, or someone who believes something different than us. We might just ignore that disdain or those differences, and be courteous to them and allow them to have a fair share. But to love someone who hates us?

To love someone means to care about that person more than we care about ourselves. To love others means to consider others to be more important than ourselves. It means to give ourselves, and actively help others without an expectation of anything in return.

This means forgiving them of their hatred, even they strike us or otherwise harm us. How can a person attain this type of love for others?

How can we learn to love others like this?

This type of love is only possible when one has focused their life on the Supreme Being. Why is that?

Jesus is affirming this love is connected to one's relationship to God as he says, "pray for those who mistreat you."

Jesus illustrated this type of prayer as he was being tortured and executed when he prayed:
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
Yes, this is what Jesus said about those who were crucifying him. He was advocating for them. His concern was not the excruciating pain that he was experiencing, after being nailed up onto a cross. His focus was on the welfare of those who were executing them. He wanted the Supreme Being to forgive them.

This is love. Jesus practiced what he preached. He was not concerned for his welfare, but for the welfare of others. That is real love.

Where does this kind of love come from?

This sort of love comes from the intimate relationship Jesus had with the Supreme Being.

Jesus wanted to please the Supreme Being. His heart was focused upon doing the will of his beloved Supreme Being. This is clarified as Jesus prayed during his final hours:
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)

This clearly communicates that Jesus was not God - as so many institutional teachers teach, despite that Jesus is praying to someone else. Jesus is God's representative and the perfect lover of the Supreme Being.

Jesus' activities also illustrated that when one loves the Supreme Being, he will naturally love others. He also stated this clearly:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39)
Here the phrase "like it" is derived from the Greek word ὅμοιος (homoios), which means not only "like" but "similar" and "resembling." The same word was also used as Jesus spoke in parables: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed..." and so on. The word ὅμοιος (homoios) indicates something reflective. One reflects the other.

In this case, love for others reflects one's love for the Supreme Being.

Love for God can only take place as a person comes to know the love the Supreme Being has for each of us. We cannot love someone we do not know. But when we come to know God, we see His unconditional love for all His children. As we see this nature and participate in a relationship with Him, we begin to reflect this love.

Does God's love for us have any conditions?

Our love for God reflects onto others as we see the unconditional love that God has for each of us. This love has no conditions. Why, then, would our love for others come with conditions?

Yet we see this all the time - that others will love only on the condition that they are loved back, or somehow recognized for that love.

But that is not really love, because love is based upon God's love for us. And God's love for us is unconditional. God loves us regardless of what we have done. He loves us regardless of what kind of body we might be wearing.

God loves us for who we are - not these physical bodies. We are not these temporary physical bodies and their temporary identities. This physical body is meant to last no more than a few decades. Then it dies and decomposes.

Each of us is an eternal spiritual being - and we leave the body at the time of death.

Jesus confirmed this as he told the man next to him as their bodies were dying on the cross:
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
Who is the "you" Jesus was speaking to? Was it the physical body of the man - that physical body that was soon to become lifeless and decomposing? No. It was the spiritual person - the person who animated that body. Jesus was explaining that both of them will be returning to the spiritual realm after they left their physical bodies.

Knowing our identity and knowing the Supreme Being is the only way a person can truly love someone who might temporarily be in the position of being an enemy of our physical body or subtle physical mind. We must come to know our true identity as spiritual, and come to know the spiritual love the Supreme Being has for us. Underneath this temporary body, beneath our self-centeredness, each of us is one of the Supreme Being's spiritual caregivers.

Only a person who understands this can truly love their enemy.