Read Zechariah 7
Focus on verse 9-10
One of my all time favorite computer games is Sid Mier’s “Civilization III”. For those of you familiar with the game, I am aware that there have been several newer versions, but my preference has always been this version. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it is actually quite educational in helping one learn trivia facts about ancient and modern civilizations. To summarize the game play, one simply chooses a world leader to be the player one controls, and sets the parameters of the game to choose whom and how many computer generated players there will be. Then one merely attempts to conquer the simulated world. It is perhaps an over simplification, but in a very generalized way the game sums up world history from begging to end.
The game starts very primitively and as it progresses the players develop and advance through different phases of history.
The assumption we all make about human civilization (not the game but reality now) is that we become more civilized as we become more advanced in science, technology, military might, and philosophy. While there may be some truth to this, I am not certain that these advances truly make us more civilized. This perhaps introduces the question of what exactly it means to be “civilized”?
In today’s reading Zechariah relays to the exiles in Jerusalem God’s definition of what it means to be civilized.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (v. 9-10)
This seems to be a fair assessment of the kind of civilization that provides freedom and opportunity to anyone who has the desire and motivation to pursue their dreams. A truly civil society is one where the law is applied justly and without favoritism, yet also demonstrates kindness and mercy. It is a society where widows and orphans are not oppressed or taken advantage of but taken care of. It is a place where it is safe to travel, where the poor are provided for, and where one does not fear that some hooligan is cooking up a scheme by which to randomly hurt people.
As I compare this definition with the society in which I currently live I have to admit that we may be moving I’m a disturbing direction. The frequency and intensity of corruption within our national legal system seems to be increasing rather than decreasing. While there are still many kind and merciful people in our nation, the media seems to be preoccupied with showing us those who are not. Though we spend billions of dollars on programs directed at eliminating poverty the result seems to be creating more people who are dependent on these social programs rather than less. While most of the nation is still relatively safe for folks to travel and move about, violent, random attacks on people seem to be more common than ever.
So why does it seem that we are becoming more uncivilized when we are so advanced I’m nearly every other way? I would suggest that it has its roots in our departure from teaching our children the Judaeo-Christian principles that this nation was built upon. By this, I am not suggesting that we turn the nation into a theocracy. The point of constitutional freedom of religion is to give people the freedom to choose to follow and promote whatever religion they desire to follow, provided their chosen religion does not require them to break God’s natural laws or other existing laws that govern the civilization. I believe the place we began to go off the rails was when began to reinterpret freedom “of” religion as freedom “from” religion, because this is where we essentially began to excommunicate God from our society.
I further believe that a society that attempts to eliminate the word of God, and thus also the presence of God, from its social order will ultimately become an increasingly uncivilized society. It may not be currently politically correct to assert such a statement, but human history would seem to support the concept. Nations that have adopted God’s design for social structure have consistently presented the greatest freedom and opportunity for humanity to prosper.