Today’s guest post is from Tim Fall. Enjoy!
Like a good chess player he [Satan] is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop. (C.S. Lewis)
I’ve been watching the Olympics and that means watching track and field. Olympic runners need no explanation of Paul’s illustrations in 1 Corinthians 9:24 – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” – and Galatians 5:7 – “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” Sometimes races take an odd turn, though.
I read an article recently about a high school runner who was at the state finals in Ohio. Meghan Vogel had already won the 1600 meter race and earned a state title, but her true victory (in my opinion anyway) came later in the 3200 meter event. Running dead last, Meghan saw Arden McMath stumble and go down only a few meters from the finish line.
“I was kind of blacking out,” McMath told the Daily News. “I wasn’t too aware of my surroundings. I was just trying to keep going. When my body gave out, she was there. It was amazing.”
“She was there.” Arden went down and Meghan, even though she only had 20 feet to go herself, stopped for the exhausted girl and helped her get up, put one foot in front of the other and cross the finish line. (If you can watch the video embedded in the link above without choking up, you’re made of stronger stuff than I). She did this at some peril to herself as well. Intentionally touching another runner is an automatic disqualification. Meghan propped Arden in front of her as they crossed the line with Meghan coming in last place. The officials called no foul.
Christians run races too in a sense. That’s why Paul’s illustrations work so well, because we can all relate to the idea of being in something like a 3200 meter race. The life we live in Christ is for the long haul. That’s why C.S. Lewis’s chess analogy works too. Chess is a game of strategy, much like a long distance race. Where Paul talks about someone cutting in on another runner, Lewis talks of maneuverings and strategies that force us into making a choice. And what a choice it is.
Lewis used two pieces in his illustration, the Castle and the Bishop, that I think are particularly significant. Castles are strongholds of secular power, built to protect and maintain that power. Bishops represent faith handed down through centuries, generation upon generation. On the chessboard, Castles are more powerful than Bishops and when faced with a choice a player would most often sacrifice a Bishop in order to save the more powerful Castle.
Satan would like to do the same to us. As Lewis puts it, Satan wants us in positions where we will sacrifice Bishops to save Castles. Satan wants us to sacrifice matters of faith in order to save our worldly achievements or possessions.
Meghan Vogel was given the opportunity to pursue a worldly achievement or an achievement of higher worth. She could have sacrificed her integrity (her Bishop) in order to save herself from coming in last (a Castle of sorts, athletic achievement).
Believers in Christ should take note. Paul’s illustration and Lewis’s analogy were played out right there in front of us in real life. When I come to such a choice, I hope I don’t sacrifice my Bishop merely to save my Castle.
Questions: When have you faced a choice like this? How did it go?
Biography: Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids (one in college and one just graduated, woo-hoo!) his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California. Tim guest posts on other peoples’ blogs, but is too lazy to get a blog of his own.