The play “All My Sons” is based upon a true story. During World War Two, the Wright Aeronautical Corporation based in Ohio conspired to send defective aircraft engines into the war effort resulting in the death of 21 military personnel. Then Senator Harry S. Truman’s congressional investigative board uncovered the conspiracy which resulted in three Army Air Force Officers being relieved of duty and convicted of neglect of duty.
In the play two partners in a small aircraft engine company conspired to put defective engines military aircraft. One of the partners, Joe Keller, the father of five sons, placed all of the blame on his partner, Steve Deever. Deever was sentenced to federal prison, and Joe Keller kept this secret for as long as he could. Jesus once pointed out, “there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17, NIV). And so it was.
When the truth finally comes out, Joe’s eldest son, Chris is devastated. A kitchen confrontation ensued and Joe defended himself saying that he was no worse than anyone else. A weary Chris replied, “I know you’re no worse than most men but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father.”
“I thought you were better.” That is the essence of what Jesus told his disciples toward the end of his “Sermon on the Mount.” “You have heard it said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say to you…. Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
The world says that if someone hits you, hit them back harder. Give them something to think about. The world says that second place is the first loser. Jesus asks how the world’s way working for us. Families don’t speak to each other, neighborhoods descend into chaotic violence, gangs seek spiraling revenge, civil wars tear countries apart. Violence begets more violence, a never ending cycle. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth creates a world of blind toothless people. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Jesus called his disciples then and now to be better than the world. His disciples are to be salt and light. They are hold up a new standard. “Do not be conformed to the world,” the apostle Paul wrote, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
“Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” “Perfect” can better be translated as “complete”, “whole”, “mature”. In other words, “Grown up!” “When I was a child,” Paul wrote, “I acted like a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child. But now I’m all grown up. I have put away my childish ways.”
Maybe we should, too. Now that would be a real glimpse of grace!