In his essay “The Inner Ring” C. S. Lewis describes the folly of finding our self-worth in social hierarchies. He writes, “Of all the passions the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things . . . The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.”
Here’s how I think this works. We’ve been created with a need to feel like we belong, but ever so often we make the mistake of idolizing a certain group of people in order to get that sense of belonging.
“Maybe if I can get in with them, then I’ll know I’m okay.”
I think this comes from a place of deep insecurity. People who fall into this trap were at one point on the outside looking in. But having entered in, all that matters is that they stay in, which means everyone on the outside is excluded, ridiculed, and devalued. Lines are drawn, and it becomes us versus them. I wrestle with what it means for there to be an us, and how to be a part of us while still being Christ to them.
It’s dangerous to get in with a group of people. Here are some of the things I see happening to people who fall into this trap:
- Dulled consciences
- Gossip and slander about them
- Inferiority/superiority complex toward them
- Callousedness toward them