“There’s luminescent algae.”
I tore my gaze from the night sky to stare at my friend, whose eyes shone with excitement. I followed her and other classmates to the edge of the ocean where, sure enough, you could see flashes of glowing algae amid the dark waves. I was in awe. The God of creation put stars in the sky and stars in the ocean. No matter where we turn, we can’t escape his glory and power.
A similar wonder is that we, God’s image-bearers, can participate in the action of creating. He created us to be creative—not omnipotent like him but still capable of astonishing creations. Our creativity is a gift with a purpose: to glorify the God whose image we bear. Without that purpose, creativity becomes a frustrating and meaningless pursuit.
Creativity in Life, Not Just in Art
For any member of my generation, Gen Z, there’s a myriad of ways to become a creator. Social media platforms offer new ways to blog, vlog, and share one’s life with the world. There are worlds to explore through visual art, ensembles to play in, compositions to write, stages to fill, and stories to tell.
Our creativity is a gift with a purpose: to glorify the God whose image we bear.
However, human creation isn’t limited to artistic realms. Every action to combat injustice, establish peace, remedy this or that problem, or improve the quality of human life is an act of creating. Today’s young adults are entering a world more interconnected than ever before, and thus they’re exposed to a greater range of problems than any prior generation.
Yet as current issues confront them, Gen Z is creatively rising to the challenge.
But Gen Z isn’t the solution. Broken systems won’t be fixed by broken people. The world cries out for a healing from beyond us. This is why, as a creative generation, Gen Z needs the gospel.
In my freshman year of high school, I wrote a short story for an English assignment. I considered it my best literary work yet. Proudly, I turned it in to my teacher. She returned it to me with a comment on the last page that crushed me: “Where is the hope in this story?”
My teacher’s comment did more than temporarily disappoint me: it made me think in a new way about the enduring purpose of who I am and what I do. Beyond short stories and English assignments, I realized everything in my life should speak about my one great hope in Jesus Christ, who came to earth, died, and rose again to the glory of God. There’s a message we tell with each act of creativity, and only with true hope is a message worthwhile. That’s what my teacher was getting at.
In eighth grade, I surrendered myself to this hope. God used drastic events to show me simultaneously my great brokenness and Christ’s great saving grace. Since then, God has been teaching and showing me how only he gives eternal value to what I do. These lines from C. T. Studd’s famous poem often come to my mind: “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
No amount of ambition, entrepreneurial hustle, or idealistic vision can imbue my generation’s creativity with everlasting significance. Even if we develop the best sustainable energy resource, method of cross-cultural communication, or education system, these solutions won’t solve the ultimate problem of our sin or reconcile us with our Creator.
No amount of ambition, entrepreneurial hustle, or idealistic vision can imbue my generation’s creativity with everlasting significance.
Since this is precisely what Jesus Christ has done, centering our efforts around the hope of the gospel yields a framework that points others to a solution greater than any of our problems. While the world and its solutions decay, our God is the same, and his steadfast love endures forever (Ps. 107:1).
For the Christian, the act of creating—whether we’re developing nanotechnology, methods of speech therapy, or a work of literary fiction—becomes an act of worship. The focus isn’t on our efforts but on Christ and his glory as he makes all things new. We’re fruitful only when we abide in Christ (John 15:4–5). What we do in Christ, by Christ, and for Christ has eternal value.
Where’s the Hope?
I’m saddened watching my talented peers pursue fulfillment apart from Christ, driven by creative ambition that depends on our own achievement of influence and glory. If we’re more driven by the thought of what we ourselves could do rather than what Christ has done and is doing, our creativity will consistently leave us empty.
I pray my fellow creative Gen Zers would allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to enter their lives and transform their creations into something meaningful and worshipful—something of eternal value in his eternal kingdom. Let’s be surprised, humbled, and amazed at what God can do through us when we surrender to him the gifts he gave us. Let’s seek his will and not our own.
I’d ask my friends the same question my teacher asked me: “Where is the hope in your story?”
If we desire to channel our creativity toward making a lasting difference in the world, then setting our hope in the Creator—rather than hoping in our own creativity—will make all the difference.