“How does God see my generation?” It’s a good question, and one we don’t often think to ask. We hear a lot of talk about the different generations: what they’re like, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they’re different from other generations, and on and on. The concept of generations is interesting. In our time, people generally separate us into different social categories based on which set of fifteen years we were born in, and therefore which significant events we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Those of us who are currently teenagers or young adults are often considered “Generation Z.”
In my experience, being part of Gen Z is hard. I often hear people from older generations talking about us as if we’re a conundrum or a nuisance. But on the other hand, I’m also tempted to find fault with their generations. Sadly, as humans we have a tendency to put down people who are different from us, often as a way to try to make ourselves feel better. But this is not just unproductive, it’s also unkind. Thankfully, there’s a way out of this judging and finger-pointing.
The most helpful thing I’ve heard about my generation came from a woman at my church who was praying for me a few Sundays ago. She’s part of Gen X, and she said, “Do you know how God sees Gen Z? As people made in His image.” That declaration startled me. As her words sank into my heart, I began to feel relieved, calm, and hopeful. We are not a conundrum to God. We are not a nuisance. He made us on purpose, and He understands us completely—even when we don’t understand ourselves. And He loves us, just as much as He loves every single generation that came before us, and every single generation that will come after us. His love is so great that He was willing to die for us so that we could be restored to relationship with Him. And He is working in our generation, drawing us close to Himself and empowering us to be part of the good work of His kingdom.
While thinking about people in terms of generations can sometimes be helpful as we look for ways to understand ourselves and those around us, I don’t think that what generation we’re part of is the most important thing about us. We need Jesus to save us just as desperately as the other generations do. And when Jesus returns and makes all things new, everyone who has put their trust in Him will be raised from their graves like He was, and we will live forever with Him in restored creation. Then, we will be in perfect community with God and with all our brothers and sisters in Christ, including those who were born thousands of years before us! We will finally understand each other and be able to enjoy one another freely—without shame or fear getting in the way.
Even as we look forward to this glorious day, we can catch glimpses of the restoration Jesus is bringing in our hearts and in our relationships here and now. As we rest in His love and kindness to us, we can see ourselves and everyone around us the way God sees us: as people made in His image, people He loves. • Hannah Howe
• How have you heard people talking about your generation? What things have been helpful, and what things have been unhelpful?
• Why do you think we’re often tempted to be resentful or overly critical of other generations? Consider taking a moment to talk to Jesus about this, confessing any sins that come to mind and asking for His help to see others as He sees them—and love them as He loves them. (It might be helpful to read Matthew 9:36.)
• Sometimes, we can feel like our very identity is defined by what generation we were born into, but that’s not how God sees us. He is the One who crafted us carefully and purposefully (Psalms 119:73; 139:13-17). And He sees us in light of what Jesus has done for us by dying on the cross and rising from the grave. In Jesus, we are totally forgiven and completely loved. So, especially when we are faced with cultural expectations and labels, both from people our age and people older and younger than us, why might it be important to take time to rest in the truths of what God says about us in His Word?
• Consider taking some time now to reread today’s Bible passages. How does God describe you? What does He say your identity is?
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NLT)