Thursday, March 06, 2008

Inner Circle and Outer Circle

C.S. Lewis wrote an excellent essay entitled "The Inner Circle". It is difficult to do justice to it with a short summary. The gist is that most of us are plagued by a desire to join an "inner circle" of acquaintances purely because we want to satisfy the pride of knowing that we are in and others are out. Lewis makes it clear that close circles of friends or colleagues are a fine thing when their purpose is relationship with each other. The perversion is when our lust is to know that we are in a circle that has excluded others, but included us. Lewis did a great job of clarifying an area that I had struggled with for years.

Tonight I find myself wondering about a corollary desire to touch an "outer circle". Modern communications, especially the Internet, have enabled me to stay in touch with people from all over the world. Indeed, at times my initial contact is via the Internet, and face to face comes much later or never. As with the inner circle, it seems a wholesome and desirable thing to maintain relationships for the sake of the relationships. What I wonder is this: How much am I driven by a desire to simply enlarge my "outer circle" to show what an influential fellow I am. Using others, even just using them electronically, to gratify my ego and prop up my sense of importance is a very sad possibility. I am not consciously doing so, but I am left to wonder about the purity of my motives.

The word "motives" reminds me of something that has given me solace. I thank God that often my motives are mixed selfishness and love. I thank God because there have been and still are times when my motives are pure selfishness. Mixed is progress. Pure love will probably not be an option until I am made new in the next life.
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