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FAITH WITHOUT WORKS


As a Marine Sergeant, there were many times when I helped out the young troops in my charge with various sorts of favors. Sometimes I was the local financial aid officer, assisting a young Marine in between pay days with the money necessary for a car insurance payment. Sometimes my home was the local USO as Christina and I held thanksgiving dinners for troops who for various reasons would not be heading home for the holidays. This was a part of my job and I never minded it very much; except for one particular favor paid by me to a certain LCPL Rice.


John was a fun kid who loved fast cars and big trucks. He had once loaned me his brand new 4-wheel-drive truck to drive from Yuma Arizona to San Diego, California which I very mistakenly, and equally to his disfavor, drove that entire trip with the 4-wheel-drive engaged; all the while wondering why the gas mileage was so terribly poor and so impressed with the incredible way the truck seemed to hug the freeway.


Not long after that time John purchased a classic Corvette of moderate condition, which he had intentions of fully restoring. He was heading to a military school for a few months and asked if I would keep his Corvette at my house while he was away. He told me that I could drive it as often as I liked upon the condition that I keep the gas tank full and wash it once in a while. John left for the school over the weekend and I got a ride into the base on Monday morning, found the keys where John had left them for me, and later that day, during the lunch hour I was set to drive home this Corvette and then return to the base in my own car.


It was July, in Yuma Arizona; it was hot, very HOT. I strapped myself into the low riding Corvette, started the car and revved the engine a bit. It had a low growl. Even though he had yet to restore the body, he had done many repairs to the engine and it purred beautifully. I drove out of the front gate and did take the liberty of pushing the speed limit on my way done 32nd Street in Yuma on my way to the foothills where our house was. I noticed on the way home that the oil gage was acting very erratic. In fact it was bouncing all over the place.


About 2 miles from home the car began to sputter and slow down, about a mile and a half from home the car began to shake and jerk, the temperature grace shot into the red zone, and then 1 mile from home the engine exploded, seized, and I coasted to a stop. I then pushed that car for the better part of a mile, by myself, in the desert heat. My hopes of cruising in John’s Corvette for the next 3 months were dashed. That car sat in my driveway, motionless until he returned.


I would sometimes sit outside in the Corvette and pretending I was cruising in it until Christina would tell me I had to get out of the car because it was pathetic and I was embarrassing her in front of the neighbors! The car looked good, in fact, for a little while it ran for me, but at the end all I had was an attractive lawn ornament; I had the appearance of speed with a broken engine. I had the appearance of real Detroit muscle without any punch.


I had something very much akin to what is spoken of in James chapter two. I had something like faith without works, because the car was dead. It was unable to perform its intended purpose. Its purpose was not to reside in my driveway, unable to move, it was built for speed! It was build to race down the road and growl at stops. So it is with our faith. Our faith is not an end unto itself. Faith is not intended for faith’s sake. Faith that doesn’t work is as useless as a car which cannot drive a plane which lacks the ability to fly, or a ship which cannot sail.

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