God and chess   Leave a comment

God and Chess

God and Chess

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?Who knows enough to give him advice?And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36

I like playing chess. It is a game which has in reserve many surprise. Just a pawn can be used to cause a check and force your king to move. A pawn you might have neglected in all your strategies might be the central focus of your opponent to checkmate you.

I was reading Colossians chapter 1 and this was the image I got when I read this verse:

This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.” Col 1:26

If we start from the Old Testament, this is what the prophet Isaiah said about Jesus:

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.He was despised, and we did not care.”

A pawn is not as strong as a queen. Would you believe your adversary if he predicted at the start of the game that he’ll beat you with the move of a pawn?

The Jews argued against this idea of having a Messiah from Galilee.

They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”  John 7:52

Is not this Jesus the son of the poor carpenter Joseph? Was not he the one who was born in a stable? We know him since birth. How can he claim to be God? How can he dare to say that He is the only way to heaven? Is not he blaspheming when He says that He can forgive sins? Is not he mad to say that he can rebuild the temple in 3 days? The Jews were offended when they heard all these claims about Jesus. It was impossible that this Jesus could be the promised Messiah and the God-sent King.

The Jews were waiting for a powerful leader to deliver them from the oppression of the Romans. But God’s way of bringing salvation to man was not something the Jews ever thought of. This good news, the Gospel, was kept secret for centuries Paul said. When God’s enemies were rejoicing when the king of the Jews was crucified, they thought that they won.

They said:

He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! Mat 27:42

But what they did not know was that all this was part of God’s plan to redeem man. Jesus had to die. The scholars at this time could not understand that, experts in the Jewish laws were really annoyed with Jesus, great Greek philosophers and intellectuals found it hard to accept that God could do such a thing.

Was not it foolish? Oh yeah, the good news about Christ lacks a lot of logic. It seems to us not wise for God to do such a thing. But it was God’s way of saving man. God wanted to destroy the wisdom of those who thought they were in possession of wisdom, had the answers to eternal life and claimed to know God. How can the Messiah die on a cross? Is not it a sign of weakness from God? How can God inhabit in a human body? Is not it a sign of weakness from God? Did God lose on Golgotha?

But God uses the vile things of this world to shame those who think they are wise, Paul said. No one can boast that he knew how God would bring salvation. What God did goes against all human wisdom and reasoning. Even Thomas, Jesus’ follower who saw all the miracles Jesus did doubted that Jesus was indeed risen.

Paul summarises it well:

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles,Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world,things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:18-31

He was buried like a criminal. But Isaiah said that :

It was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants.He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.”
This Jesus that many people despise, insult, consider as a foolish invention and ignore is God’s manifested wisdom. Paul acknowledged that the message of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing. It did not make sense. In Romans 1:16, he said that he was not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God. When he heard about the stories of powerful Greek gods, were not there reasons for him to be ashamed of preaching about a crucified son of carpenter whom people could not see, touch and hear? The message he preached was not talking about a Goliath or Zeus coming to earth.

Einstein said that God does not play dice. God can do things that are unpredictable.

As the psalmist said: “Our God is in the heavens,and he does as he wishes.” Ps 115

Job said: “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.” Job 37:5

Who can argue with God and tell Him that what He did make no sense?

Paul said “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” Col 1:19

One of the reasons of Christ’s coming was to be a High Priest. A High Priest who could bridge the gap between the Holy God and sinful man. Jesus is the One through whom the Holy God reconciled Himself with man. No one come to God except through Jesus. God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ. God Himself came on earth and took a human body in the person of Jesus. Through Jesus’ sacrifice man was given the chance to get right with God and He now lives inside those who believe in Him.

Jesus humbled himself and made Himself nothing. It’s like a king crossing the chessboard just to save a pawn like me! This is God’s wisdom and God’s perfect plan. It’s only by faith that one can believe in such a “foolish message of the cross”. In fact, it was God’s very plan that man would be saved by having faith in such a message. But the chess scenario does not end there. A pawn can become a queen. After Jesus humbled Himself, He took back the place of highest honor in heaven and brought us in victory with Him.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being,When he appeared in human form,he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Phil 2

One day all those who insulted Him, persecuted those who believed in Him and ignored Him will bow down before Him and confess He is God. All creatures in heaven and earth will one day acknowledge that Jesus was God’s wisdom manifested.

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Posted September 7, 2012 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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