Strangers are not always our enemies and our enemies are not always strangers, but we often treat strangers like our enemies and our enemies like strangers. And that’s because strangers and enemies are both often simply the result of human-made barriers and conflict.
Some barriers are so systemically ingrained in our world that we forget that they are simply human inventions. (Think about borders, language, economics, etc.) And when barriers are broken, our human response is violence (physical and otherwise), to restore the barrier to its former state or something even stronger.
But this is not the work to which Christ-followers are called. Instead, workers in the Eternal Kingdom must tear down barriers and build bridges from the rubble.
It is this work that is close to Jesus’ heart when He says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-48) If we want to be a child of God, we will be like Him.
Jesus tore down the barrier between God and humanity to build a bridge of grace between us and God, so now we must build bridges of grace between us and our fellow humanity.