Day 3 – Stay or Go?
Waking up on the third day of your survival situation you know that something needs to change soon. You have been gone for two days knowing that no one knows where you are and with no sign of anyone driving down the deserted road your car has broken down by. You have thankfully found a patch of wild berries to eat and have been able to purify water from a nearby brook thanks to your fire and a water bottle. But after two days with no signs of other people, no cell phone service, and no real food you know that you will have to make a decision to stay at your car and wait to be found or as a survival expert would say, ‘effect self-rescue’.
While watching TV with your pal TJ he taught you that ‘effecting self-rescue’ is where a person who is stranded away from civilization makes the decision to find their own way out of danger and back to other people. This is a very dangerous option because it means leaving many of your valuable resources behind and risking exposure to other environments such as swamps and deserts as well as the weather elements. In your situation with the broken down car it means leaving your shelter, source of fire, and your best chance of being seen by a passing vehicle. On the other hand, staying where you are with no cell phone service and no real food source can only last so long. The car battery will eventually wear out and you won’t be able to keep your cell phone charged.
Survival Tool #3: Effecting Self-Rescue
With this in mind, you make the decision to go. It was not an easy choice because it meant making a careful study of what was of greater value. In the end you chose to leave the safety of the car to find food, cell service, and ultimately the help of other people. Staying with the car meant security but it also meant that it would be many more days before anyone would find you. It was a difficult decision but after carefully weighing your options you knew that the best thing was to leave the car behind and follow the road searching for cellular service, food, and people.
As followers of Christ we can often find ourselves in similar situations where we must decide if it is better to stay or to get away from a particular environment. Whether it is a bad job, non-Christian friends, or a party you were invited to that went from cake & ice cream to beer & cigarettes without you knowing, you have to decide what is the best thing for your walk with Christ as well as your testimony to others; stay or go? The reason this can be difficult is that you can push away the very people Christ has commanded you to build relationships with. The people that need to know about Jesus are quite often the very ones who live the worst lives. After all, what kinds of lives did we live before Christ changed our hearts?
Use Your Tools:
Jesus found himself in similar situations where the very people he was trying to reach were the ones who lived the most sinful lives. To impact the life of a Tax Collector he had to go to a party full of drinking and other tax collectors. To impact the life of a woman who was living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage it meant breaking the rules of their society by talking to a woman alone. To impact the life of a man with leprosy he broke the rule Rabbis had for ceremonial cleanliness by touching him to heal the man of his disease. For all of these things Jesus risked going against what culture said was right in order to show the love of God to these people.
How can you tell what is the right situation to stay in? What can you do to decide whether it is right to stay in the position you are in or leave to find safety somewhere else? Like you did earlier when deciding whether or not to stay with the car or effect self-rescue you had to weigh the good versus the bad of each situation. Was it better to stay in safety and risk or going days without rescue or leaving to find help while risking the dangers of the woods? The same thing is true here; you have to decide if you’ll be impacted by your environment or be the one making the impact for Christ.
Consider the advice the Apostle Paul gave in one of his letters:
 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?  What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?  And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6: 14-16 NLT)
As we have often said we must read passages in context. This passage is not saying that we should not be friends with those who do not know Jesus; it is saying we must not team up with them. If we are on a team we are supporting the same things and going after the same goals. As Christians our goals are to share the Good News of Christ with everyone and to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth like it is in Heaven. These are not the same goals that those who are not followers of Christ have.
Another translation phrases verse 14 as not being “unequally yoked” with non-believers. The idea is that if we are connected together like to farm animals that are yoked together to plow a field we will end up pulling in different directions. A farmer once told me that if you yoke two animals together that are trying to go different directions one will eventually harm the other to get what they want. Followers of Christ cannot be on the same spiritual team as non-believers because we have different spiritual goals. If we try someone will eventually get hurt and the relationship will get destroyed.
Does this mean that Christians cannot be friends with non-Christians or never go to the places non-Christians hang out? By no means! Jesus, who was perfect mind you, was known for going to parties and was called a drunkard because he spent so much time where non-believers were. Look at how he responded to criticism from the religious leaders of his day because he hung out with “sinners”:
 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.  But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”  Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9: 10-13 NLT)
If we want to live as Jesus lived we must find balance; Jesus spent time going where non-believers were but he also spent a great deal of time surrounded by his disciples. We too must find balance if we are going to impact our world and share the Good News of Christ to others. We must spend time with non-believers building relationships and sharing Christ with them but we also must be careful to spend time with other Christians to stay on track and not get drawn away from God because we are not on their ‘team’.
Do you stay or go? That depends on who is being impacted the most. If it is you, then go. If you believe you are making the impact on them, then stay. Just as you considered the options and the odds before leaving the safety of the car to find rescue we must consider the risks involved with going where the people are who need Christ. This constant examination is necessary to keep from having others draw us away from Christ.
Who is making the bigger impact, you or your non-Christian friends? What must you do to stay on track and follow Christ completely? What situations or relationships do you need to change so that you stay sold out to following Christ rather than following culture?