NOTE: My sermon “Wanna Play Catch?” on 1 John 4:7-11 can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/9JhkIGs3TM4
When my oldest son, Jeremy, was five or six years old, one spring afternoon on my way home from work I stopped by the sporting goods store and bought him his first baseball glove and a youth baseball. When I got home, I called him out into the front yard and presented him with his new gifts. After showing him how to wear the glove, hold the ball, and catch the ball, I asked Jeremy, “Wanna play catch?”
His eyes lit up! “Sure, dad!” he said. “Ok, get out there about 10 feet away. Get your glove ready!” I gently threw the ball to him. Of course, it hit his glove and fell on the ground. He hurriedly picked it up and threw it back to me. It was an errant throw that dribbled on the grass off to the left. I picked up the ball and said: “Get ready now! Here it comes!” I tossed him the ball underhandedly. Again, it hit his glove and fell on the ground.
Over the next weeks and months as we played catch in the front yard, his ability in catching and throwing improved. I initiated the game of catch with Jeremy. I bought him his first glove and ball, showed him how to use them, and then played catch with him. It was one of the ways I could express my love to Jeremy.
Jesus teaches us about God’s love. Trace the stream of love to its source and you find “God is love.”
Since God is love, we must love God and love whatever God loves. The greatest love you can show to those without Christ is to tell them about Jesus. As Spurgeon said in his sermon on 1 John 4:7-11:
Go forth at once, and try and make reconciliation . . . between every man and God. Let that be your object. Christ has become man’s reconciliation, and we are to try and bring this reconciliation near to every poor sinner that comes in our way. We are to tell him that God in Christ is reconciled. . . . God is now able to deal on gospel terms with the whole race. We need never think that we shall meet with men to whom God will not consent to be reconciled.
Ask any man to name his top five favorite baseball movies and without a doubt Field of Dreams will be on every list, often at the top.
Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, lives in rural Iowa with his wife Annie and his young daughter Karin. While walking through his cornfield, Ray hears a voice whisper: “If you build it, he will come!” Ray concludes that the voice is telling him to build a baseball field, so he plows under his corn and does just that.
Ray waits and watches for weeks and months, but nothing happens on the field. Suddenly, one summer afternoon the embodied ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson appears on Ray’s field. Later, he brings back other players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox team to scrimmage on the field.
The plot of the movie twists and turns to the concluding scene one late afternoon. The ballplayers are leaving the field to disappear in the corn on the margin of the outfield. Shoeless Joe Jackson, played by Ray Liotta, looks at Ray and tells him: “If you build it, he will come,” and then he glances toward the catcher near home plate who is removing his catching mask and gear.
Ray suddenly recognizes that the player is his own father, John Kinsella, as a young man, long before Ray was even born. You see, as the movie plot unfolds, we learn that when Ray was seventeen, he had a big fight with his father. He packed his things, said something awful, and left. He never spoke to his father again. Ray had regretted this all of his life, but his father had died and Ray had lost his chance to make things right.
John Kinsella approaches Ray. “I want to thank you folks for building this field.” Ray and his father converse for a moment, and though nothing is said, they both understand. “Is this heaven?” John asks Ray. “No, this is Iowa,” Ray responds.
Ray’s father turns and begins to walk toward the cornfield to depart. There is a pause, and then Ray, with deep emotion, chocking back the tears, calls out: “Dad . . . wanna play catch?” His father, turns, pauses, and responds: “Yes, I’d like that very much.”
Ray dons a glove and he and his father begin to play catch on the infield. The sun is westering in the sky, the camera pans to wide angle, and the movie draws to a close.
But Field of Dreams got it exactly backwards! In the movie, the wayward son asks the father: “Wanna play catch?” . . . . But in the Bible, it is the Father who asks the rebellious sons: “Wanna play catch?” Because of His great love for us, God initiated our salvation.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
If you think of your life and your love like a baseball — throw it back to the divine Pitcher who pitched it to you first — and the game continues. Hold it — and the game is over.
Listen! Do you hear it? That voice! That heavenly voice! “Wanna play catch?”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.