By nearly all accounts, the founder of a prominent multinational technology company was a difficult man to work for. Early on, his abrasive tone and management style caused many employees to leave the company. But those who endured his initial rudeness often came to win their boss’ respect, and eventually developed a productive relationship with him. But that positive relationship was the fruit of a longer process; it certainly wasn’t instantaneous.

In today’s passage, when Peter describes how we should interact with non-believers, he implies a level of disagreement or hostility mentioning that they will “accuse you of doing wrong” (1 Peter 2:12). Often this idea becomes the foundation for how we relate to non-believers: We think we’re so different in perspective and behavior that it’s pointless to share any sort of relationship with them.

But in truth, that hostility isn’t the end of the story, but only a midpoint of a larger process. Although it’s true that we can often have profound disagreements with non-believers, our behavior, when it’s truly Christ-like, can result in their receiving “God’s mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). They may be so affected by how we live that they can’t help but “give honor to God” (1 Peter 2:12). Such a transformation isn’t possible if we turn away from them at the first sign of conflict.

It’s far too easy (and natural) to avoid or abandon a difficult relationship, especially one in which there’s a major disagreement. But we shouldn’t be too quick to turn our backs on those who don’t yet know Christ, no matter how profound our disagreements. If we do, we miss out on the chance to show them “the goodness of God,” and how He can live in them as well (1 Peter 2:9).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 13:24-43