Posted by: amylamb | December 14, 2012

‘The True Test of Civilization’

“The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of cities, nor the crops — no, but the kind of man the country turns out.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nations don’t change through politics. Nations change through people.

Though I am thankful for our system of governance, the current political stalemate over the impending fiscal cliff is a stark reminder that our hope does not — cannot — rest in the process of politics.

History tells a story worth repeating. Long before the birth of the United States, a small Middle Eastern nation stood divided. Religion and politics drew their lines and stood decidedly behind them. Citizens of faith longed to be free from the rule of foreign government. They waited for the promised Redeemer, one who would come to deliver them from the Roman occupation and into (what would later be called) the Kingdom of God.

Redemption didn’t come in the form they expected. It came in the form of a man whose concern was not with the Roman occupation, but with the hearts of those “occupied”.

His message was not “get your politics right.” His message was, “get your hearts right.” For the root of every political issue is a spiritual problem.

As he went, he brought truth, hope, and healing to each citizen he encountered. Those who encountered him imitated him. Thus began a movement that changed not only a nation, but the world as well.

It didn’t take a legislature to change the world. It took an unlikely carpenter and twelve ordinary men.

The condition of the world reflects the conditions of the nations within. The condition of a nation reflects the condition of its citizens. Thus, if we really want to change a nation, then we must start with changing ourselves. As the heart changes, the rest follows.

Christ’s message remains the most powerful change agent we could possibly employ. He replaces apathy with integrity, despair with hope, consequences with character, pride with humility, and entitlement with responsibility.

Though the political system is necessary for national progress, it is not sufficient. Citizens of faith should be involved in the political process, but not without primary emphasis on the heart condition of oneself and his fellow citizens.

Give to the government what is theirs, but don’t give them what is God’s. Though the first can change a nation for a short time, the second can change the world for eternity. After all, the true test of civilization is the character of its citizens.

This Christmas season, don’t despair over our national condition. It is not totally beyond our control. In fact, the message of Christ is if citizens of faith humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our corrupted attitudes and actions . . .

then He will respond.
He will come.
He will redeem.
He will make all things new.

In fact, I am convinced He already is. I pray it will be done through us rather than despite of us.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel … God with us.



  1. Excellent post, Amy!

  2. Wow, Amy, how beautifully written. So timely after the recent election…

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