October baseball is here. Major League teams have played 162 games over six months for this moment. Stadiums are packed with hopeful fans. Those who love baseball feel the fever.
The 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, is rated number five among the favorite baseball movies of all time. In the story, Ray Kinsella responds to a “voice” that urges him to build a baseball diamond, complete with lights, in the middle of his Iowa corn field. After doing everything the “voice” commands him to do, Ray is stunned to see Shoeless Joe Jackson and some of the greats of the game emerge from his mysterious cornfield to play the game as they did in their youth.
The story climaxes with an invitation from Shoeless Joe to join them in the cornfield a dimension beyond the edges of this world. But Ray, who has risked everything to build the field, is not invited. Instead, Jackson invites the cynical 1960s writer, Terrence Mann. Ray explodes in a fit of frustration demanding, “What’s in it for me?” To which Shoeless Joe asks, “Is that why you did this Ray, for what’s in it for you?”
It is a good question. According to experts in marketing, it is the question we all ask when we consider purchasing any product or joining any organization. In our age of seeker-sensitive churches, it seems to be the dominant question asked by anyone considering a church. “What’s in it for me?” But, is it the right question?
When Jesus invited Peter, James and John to leave their home, their families and their boats, I wonder how He would have responded if they had asked, “What’s in it for me?” Perhaps He would have responded as He did when the young man with great possessions refused to give up his wealth.
How much do we miss of what God has for us because we are so focused on “What’s in it for me?”
Perhaps what is “in it” for us is the same thing that was “in it” for Jesus: the pleasure that comes from obedience to the Father. Simply doing what He says and knowing we have been obedient to His voice may be the ultimate reward. When the Apostle Paul reached the end of his journey, he measured it in this way, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” (2 Timothy 4:7), and again, “I did not prove disobedient to the Heavenly vision.” (Acts 26:19).