Summary: It's one game board, but two games. Checkers and Chess are not only played differently, but they illustrate for me the difference between how the world deals with conflict and how God would have us do so. Do you know the difference?
OPEN: (We showed a picture of a checker board on the overhead)
What is this game?
That’s right, it’s a checkers game.
How many of you have ever played checkers? (almost everyone held up their hands)
You know, I did not realize it until I began my research for this morning’s sermon, but checkers is one of the oldest games known to man. Archaeologists think the earliest form of the game was unearthed in an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Ur in southern Mesopotamia, which is now modern day Iraq around the year 3000 B.C.
Egypt had their own form of the game (called Alquerque) around 1400 B.C. (about the time Moses led the people of Israel out of their slavery and to the Promised Land).
Now neither of those games looked quite like the form of checkers that we play now. That happened around 1100 A.D. when an innovative Frenchmen made the game board bigger with more spaces.
In 1847 the first championship award was given and to this day checker championships are held around the world. The US Tourney (for example) was held this last year in Louisville, KY.
There are Women’s championships.
AND there are WORLD championships like the one held in Italy last July.
Now, when I play checkers I don’t give much thought to the game. I jump the other guy's pieces and try to get as many of mine to be Kinged. But when you get to the championships, these folks take the game very seriously and they have strategies and gambits that I have never thought of. There’s the “Double Corner Master Opening”, the “Fife” Opening, the “Spider Web” and the “Zorro Trap”.
In fact, these folks have the game down so well, that in championship tournaments there are 3 specific plays that are illegal because those moves would give the player an unfair advantage from the very beginning.
And there’s one oddity to the game that purists hold to. In championship games, the game pieces are always red and white. The red always plays first. But what if they’re playing with checkers that aren't “red and white”? Well, when that happens, they call the darker checkers on the board “red” and the colored lighter pieces “white”.
When you used to play checkers, what color pieces did you use? (Black and Red). Which is the darker of those two colors? Black is. So, guess what: the black pieces are “red” and the red pieces are called “white.”
(We showed a picture of checkerboard without any checkers)
Now, just so we’re clear… what kind of game is played on this board?
Are you sure?
Is there another game that can be played on this kind of board?
That’s right… you can play chess on this board.
ILLUS: A couple years back I was asked to do a Revival some time back in Covington, Indiana. Part of my responsibilities was to lead a class on conflict management. It was to be a 2 hour session, and I was having trouble finding a way to illustrate what I wanted to say. So I prayed that God would help me … and this (pointing to the image of the checker board) was the image that came into my mind.
At the session I had drawn an image of a checker board on the white board behind me and I asked them the same question I asked you: What is this?
And they all said: “A checker board”
When I asked if they were sure? Someone shyly said: “Well, it could be a chess board.”
And I said “That’s right! You can play checkers AND chess on this board.
They are 2 different games… but the same game board.
I explained that these two games – checkers and chess – represented to me two different ways of dealing with conflict. Checkers, for example, is the “Mutually Assured Destruction” approach.
In checkers, in order to win you the game, you literally have decimate your opponent. You need to take away almost every one of his pieces.
But in the process you lose most of your pieces as well.
By contrast, Chess is an entirely different kind of game. I’m told that it is literally possible win a game of chess without losing a single chess piece. And it is also possible to win such a game without your opponent losing a piece.
When it comes to dealing with conflict in our lives, the world generally likes to play checkers, but God prefers that we play chess.
Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” (Matthew 5:43)
That’s the opening statement by Jesus in this teaching. He’s going to follow that up by telling us how WE should look at our enemies, but He’s started out by telling us how most people think about their enemies (HATE).