It seems hard to imagine that the enemy love of Christ was a means taken on by Christ only to fulfill his messianic role. Am I to believe that enemy love is a role of Christ, and not a characteristic of God which we are to emulate? Isn't the notion of enemy love vital to my salvation? Didn't Christ die for me while I was his enemy, while I was far off, and before I loved him? Enemy love is vital to soteriology, and it is vital to understanding the character of God. To say that this is simply a role God uses just doesn't fit with the God of the Bible as revealed through Jesus Christ.
Beyond that, of the relatively few specifics Christ gave to his followers, two things we see pop up over and over in the gospels, and continue throughout the epistles, is the promise that we Christians are to bear our crosses and expect persecution. I love the way John Howard Yoder describes this expectation for the cross and persecution.
This Gospel concept of the cross of the Christian does not mean that suffering is thought of as in itself redemptive or that martyrdom is a value to be sought after. Nor does it refer uniquely to being persecuted for 'religious' reasons by an outspokenly pagan government. What Jesus refers to in his call to cross-bearing is rather the seeming defeat of that strategy of obedience which is no strategy, the inevitable suffering of those whose only goal is to be faithful to that love which puts one at the mercy of one's neighbor, which abandons claims to justice for oneself and for one's own in an overriding concern for the reconciling of the adversary and the estranged.
Christians have turned the bearing of our crosses into something we rarely see (at least in the West), and something we absolutely try to avoid. But that doesn't seem like something that is a possibility for Christians, if Jesus has made bearing a cross an expectation for following him. As Yoder points out, bearing our cross is not something we wait around for. It's something purposeful. It's pursuing the means of God without regard for the powers of society. We take the cross upon ourselves. We purpose it. We don't wait for it. Jesus also shows us that our cross is not quietism or insurrection. You can't say that Christ was passive. If he was, of what interest would he have been to the rulers of his day? But at the same time, he wasn't an insurrectionist. He did not attack the powers with force. The cross is also not the Golden Rule. Jesus doesn't just tell us to do to others as we'd have done to us, but to follow his example. The cross of Christ
The way of Jesus in his submission to God and his means of love in the face of evident defeat is apparent. We're not talking about trivial prescriptions here. We're talking about the core of Christ's message and the means that are meant for his Kingdom. Christ's death on the cross wasn't just a transaction. Jesus didn't come only to die on the cross. He came to exemplify what obedience to God looks like in the face of seemingly insurmountable powers, and he tells us that we have the same lot.
I'm sure this explanation is far too short to be convincing, but hopefully it piques your interest. I highly recommend John Howard Yoder's book "The Politics of Jesus," where he makes a case for Christ's example here to be followed.