The Inner Circle
Getting to the inner circle of a social group is an unspoken, unintentional goal that most people will pursue no matter what the social group may be--work, church, neighborhood group, etc. It feels good to be 'on the inside'.
But the Kingdom of Heaven does not operate with such a structure of concentric social rings; you're a part of the Kingdom because you've placed your faith in Christ and as such are in the ultimate of inner circles. There's no working your way in deeper with regard to something like 'elite membership status' in the Kingdom of Heaven (contrary to how some church congregations function)--even if you're terribly imperfect when you arrive (as all of us are). The Father loves us and will mold us, one baby step at a time, into the person He always intended us to be--into the role He's always had for us as part of His Kingdom--but this does not involve piercing through rings. Straining and striving cease and we notice that while He recreates us, we find ourselves changing from the inside out and not caring at all about 'who's on the inside and who's not'; our desire becomes for oneness with our brothers and sisters in Christ--not for exclusiveness.
CS Lewis wrote about life's Inner Rings in an essay called The Inner Ring. After re-reading this essay after writing the above two paragraphs it dawned on me that members of any society’s elite hate those who won’t compromise to get themselves into The Inner Ring. I think this may be one of the reasons why Jesus was so hated. If ever there was a promising candidate to pierce through boundary after boundary of concentric Inner Rings it was Him. But He shunned societal glory for the sake of Oneness with the Father--tearing down the very concept of Inner Rings which was held so precious by the Insiders of His day. Christ’s example ought to set our priorities in-line--not in an external sense that requires strain and effort, but in a quiet giving up and full submission of ourselves to the Father that brings the genuine intimacy that the Son treasured above all.