I’ve long been fascinated with the game of chess. This isn’t because I have any type of proficiency at the game, but rather due to the intricacies of playing it. The elaborate rules for which pieces can move where, as well as the strict guidelines that dictate the nature of play create a focus and concentration rarely seen in board games. Individuals from different walks of life who may not even speak the same language can sit down and successfully play a game together with little explanation needed beyond the accepted rules. Chess boards may look different due to commerative editions, but the principles that guide play have remained the same.
However, another reason I appreciate chess is because it reminds me of things that are true of the Church. Namely:
1) Every component doesn’t have the same role – In chess, different pieces can move in different ways. The knight and the bishop can’t both accomplish the same thing in the same manner. Yet, both are valued. Their differences doesn’t determine their usefulness. Instead, they are appreciated for what they each bring to the table.
In a similar fashion, God has stated that He has equipped every child of His with particular gifts. These gifts are to be used in service of His Church. We tend to value one person’s role over another even though, just like the chess board, if one piece was missing, it impacts the other pieces’ ability to do their job. Each piece may have a different function, but each function is important.
2) Every component does have the same objective – Even though the parts move differently in chess, they are all being used to accomplish the same thing – capturing the other player’s king. Sometimes this requires sacrifice, but the sacrifice is worth it if the objective is achieved. The goal of each individual piece doesn’t matter; instead, what matters is that the shared objective is accomplished.
Similarly, the Church has a shared mission. Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples by teaching others what He had taught (Mt. 28:16-20). Doing so often requires sacrifice, and we may not understand how other believers are being used to accomplish this objective. However, we need to all work towards achieving it, having the same mind as our Creator who does not wish for anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
3) The pieces move at the Master’s will – The rook or the knight don’t get to determined how they are used to accomplish the game’s objective. It’s the one who controls them that gets to make that decision. We would not expect for the pieces to argue and complain- saying that they desire to be used in some other way than what the Master chooses. Yet,we often have this attitude when God elects to use us. We want to contend that how He desires to use us doesn’t conform with our plans, as if His purposes shouldn’t supersede our desires. Just like the pieces on the chess board, we should go where He moves us – both literally if His desire is that we relocate, and figuratively if His desire is to change our hearts or our perspective. He gets to decide how we are used – our job is to follow Him.
Just like chess players take their games seriously, so should the Church take accomplishing Christ’s objective. And we would do well to remember that we may not all have the same role, but we do all have the same mission, and however the Master uses us to accomplish that mission should inspire gratitude in our hearts.