Reading Reflection:

The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis (Harper One, reprint 1980) There is an interesting essay in this collection called The Inner Ring. It seems Lewis is addressing some college graduates about the world they are about to enter. He describes this unwritten phenomenon of a longing we all have to be a part of some type of inner circle. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of its most stereotypical expression in middle school cliques. But Lewis correctly points out how adults are no different. He distinguishes, mainly by our motives, the good from the bad:
It is the very remark of a perverse desire that it seeks what is not to be had. The desire to be inside the invisible line illustrates this rule. As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion; if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain. This is surely very clear when you come to think of it. If you want to be made free of a certain circle for some wholesome reason—if, say, you want to join a musical society because you really like music—then there is a possibility of satisfaction. You may find yourself playing in a quartet and you may enjoy it. But if all you want to be is in the know, your pleasure will be short-lived. The circle cannot have from within the charm it had from outside. By the very act of admitting you it has lost its magic. Once the first novelty is worn off, the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends. Why should they be? You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humour or learning or wit or any of the things that can be really enjoyed. You merely wanted to be “in.” And that is a pleasure that cannot last (154-155).
I think in middle school we called these people wanna-bes. It’s really an unattractive position to be in. But Lewis does encourage the genuine inner ring relationships:
The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or Important People or the People in the Know…And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside, that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric, for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things they like. This is friendship (156-157).
This essay caused me to reflect upon the wonderful friendships I have been blessed with. What a great piece of advice to give college graduates (and why not start earlier with middle-schoolers), right? But it also led me to look forward to the heavenly company that I will have for eternity. God is building eternal relationships now in Christ. Not only do my Christian friends and family grow with me into eternity, but I will get to be friends with those who have encouraged me in my Christian walk whom I have never met. I think of all of the authors and pastors whose writings have heavily influenced my life. I will be in that Inner Ring with Lewis himself! I will meet members of my family who faithfully passed their Christian devotion through the generations. And I think of people alive now who I may never be able to meet on this earth, but will have the pleasure to thank on the new earth—like some of the thoughtful, encouraging commenters on my blog. Why is it good to long to be on the inside of this Inner Ring? Because of Who we are truly longing for—Jesus Christ. Not only are we longing for Christ, but our transformation into his very likeness as well. And there will be a lot more than four or five people. What could be more joyful?