Like everyone else on the beat, Detective Sergeant Joe had heard the lectures on bulletproof vests and had found them entirely convincing. And he'd worn his vest pretty regularly too! At first.
But finding them heavy and cumbersome and taking precious time to put on, once in a while Joe decided he could do without it. But not because he didn't believe they worked. Not at all! There was no doubt in his mind that bulletproof vests could and did save lives. He'd heard the statistics and was utterly convinced that a man had a far greater chance of surviving on the police force if he wore the vest. And he wore his—most of the time.
When the thug he was trying to arrest shot him point-blank in the chest, Joe hardly knew what hit him. His partner, Mike, tried desperately to help him, but, without the lifesaving vest, the bullet had entered Joe's heart and he lived only a few moments after impact. Tears of anger and regret flowed from Mike's eyes as he watched his friend and coworker die in his arms. He would curse himself a thousand times thereafter, telling himself that he should have somehow "made" Joe wear that vest!
It was a grisly reminder to police everywhere, and the requirement to wear the vest at all times became doubly enforced all across the country. Joe's death was so unnecessary…
"He would almost certainly still be alive if only he'd been wearing his bulletproof vest," was the comment that would not die. If only he'd worn the vest Joe professed to believe in.
Knowledge is not enough. Belief is not enough. Conviction is not enough. Lectures, statistics, evidence—not enough.
"What does it profit, my fellow workers, though a man says he believes in bulletproof vests and does not wear one? Can belief save him? You prove to me you believe in the protection they give without wearing one, and I will prove my belief in their effectiveness by always wearing one. Belief, without action, is dead!" (very loosely borrowed from James 2:14 James 2:14What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
American King James Version×, 18, 26).
What about us? Do we have faith without works? Are we just believers?
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×).