Aside from running, one of the things I do in my spare time is listen to audio books. I recently finished (not for the first time) C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength. It’s the third book in his so-called “Space Trilogy.”
It’s pretty strange. I’m not sure if you’ve read it, but it’s a science fiction thriller filled with an odd combination of myth and religion and politics.
One of the concepts Lewis unfolds that is absolutely fascinating is the concept of the inner ring. This is a sociological phenomenon in which people try to get to the center of power and control. It doesn’t necessarily mean having the highest position, but rather having the most influence, seeming like the most important person.
You see this in every institution. At the seminary for example, one professor put it to me this way in his own experience. There are only a select few who get to teach at the seminary. There are even fewer who teach the most important department: practical theology. There are even fewer who teach the most important subject: preaching. And even fewer, only two, who teach preaching full-time…and I’m better than the other guy.
Notice how the rings narrow down smaller and smaller (from school to department to subject to full-time on the subject) until it is just you. Some people are drawn to this sort of exclusivity and selectivity. Their ambition drives them further and further toward power and self-importance.
This sort of thinking does not work in the Body of Christ. As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’” In the church, the choir cannot say to the Sunday school teachers “I have no need of you.” The elders cannot say to the trustees “I have no need of you.” And the pastor cannot say to anyone “I have no need of you.”
Everyone is important. Everyone is needed. Every gift and skill and passion that God has given to us as His people is necessary for the health and vitality of the church.
Which also means that you cannot say of yourself, “The church doesn’t need me.” Because we do. We need you. We are not healthy without you.
God’s blessings on your week.