“It is like the house in Alice Through the Looking Glass.”
~ CS Lewis, The Inner Ring (Final line of the essay)
This was the last line of the article. I have read Alice in Wonderland, but never the second tale. So the conclusion leaves me hanging—wondering about Lewis’s final point. Certainly I can guess—I did read the rest of the article. But I do not know for sure. So I am starting the book Alice Through the Looking Glass…
My confusion was a great way to conclude the article. Granted Lewis was expecting his audience to understand the Alice reference, but it proved his overall point. The article discussed humanity’s—our—desire to be on the inside, to be a part of the important or popular group*. We search and long for this, but when we arrive we discover they were not what we expected. It is like the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side. It does not matter how often we jump the fence—we find the reality to be less than we expected.
But even more importantly we discover the inner circle was not as important as initially thought. Not nearly as influential! Let me quote a paragraph from Lewis:
“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 in side 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 the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole again the public, nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.” (“The Inner Ring” from The weight of Glory, 156)
And this is never more true than in the church. What make Christianity powerful rarely takes place in finance meetings or deacons discussions. Instead the power of the gospel is played out across the church when people lower their pride in service to Christ and to others. A Sunday School teacher uses an art project to teach four year olds. A greeter takes the extra time to walk a guest to a seat. A man finds himself spending time in prayer every morning. In these moment the Kingdom of God is at hand and church becomes the living body of Christ.
During this month our church has many big decisions and events. The Four Great Sundays begin. The deacons will debate the budget. But do not miss what is important. This church does not hinge on events or politics or money—but on you being faithful. We talk about revival. We want revival. There is not need to stress about changing the positions of power. Instead find a place to serve Christ. Your cup will overflow, those around you will be changed, and unknown to others you will be the beginning of revival!
(Admittedly, this is more CS Lewis than Sean Taylor—but seriously, who wouldn’t rather have a newsletter from him!)
*The search for the inner ring—the popular or powerful group—is most overt in school. But the fight to be on the inner circle does not end with graduation. Even as adults we strive to be a part of groups of influence. Not that these groups are evil, but the pursuit often distracts us from the most important things.