Written by Madelynn Grutz
“He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single- minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim..”
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
How often do we, as followers of Christ, hear that we must never lose our childlike heart? We strive to come to the Lord as little children do. Jesus says in Matthew 19:14: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Why then should we not come to Him as they do? However, I believe that there is more to this concept than meets the eye. Although it may be pushed to the wayside, equally important in the journey of a Christian, is the fashioning of a fully-formed adult mind. The necessity of these two things, the heart of a child and the mind of an adult are equally important because as Christians, we can only accept Christ’s work in us with a childlike heart, we can only further His work in us with the mind of an adult and we can only be fully transformed by maintaining both. Our journey with Christ will not be easy but He gives us the tools to be to be completely equipped to struggle through this journey with Him.
Firstly, accepting the work of Christ in us can only be done with the heart of a child. There are certain things that only children seem to be capable of. Unconditional trust, in parents, in God, is one thing that children effortlessly exude. Not only that, a child takes correction well, with no shame in being imperfect or anger at failing. They are unconcerned with image, status, or rank. Simply put, they are content to follow those who lead them well. As Christians, these are all things we need to learn in order to truly accept Christ into our lives and allow Him to work in us. Matthew 18:3 says: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Only children and those with child-like hearts may enter.
Though, even as Christ says, it is undeniably important to maintain the heart of a child, it is equally crucial to develop the mind of an adult because we can only further Christ’s work in us and continue to accept Him in our daily lives with it. Even though children have many admirable qualities, they are still foolish and inexperienced. Adults have more fully-formed powers of reasoning and thought, and so, are more capable of making the difficult decisions that all Christians are called to make on a daily basis. Hebrews 5:12-14 describes this point most clearly: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Without the mind of an adult, we will remain innocent but unable to pursue the plans placed before us.
Finally, followers of Christ can only be fully transformed by maintaining both aspects, a childlike heart and an adult mind. Without a child’s heart, loving and trusting our Father would be extremely difficult, maybe even impossible, but without an adult mind, we cannot work alongside our brother Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We can only be complete with both and neither should be lacking. Instead, as C.S. Lewis writes, both should be in “first-class fighting trim”. Both are required to continue our Christian journey.
Christ calls us into heaven as little children however, He does not leave it at that. That is only beginning. A child’s heart is needed to accept Christ, the mind of an adult is needed to continue accepting Christ. Our Journey as Christians is not fully rounded without both of these things and both are equally important. So, during this Lenten season, remember that the sacrificial hardships will only serve to bring you closer to the Lord if you trust Him as a child, and journey with Him as an adult.