(…continued) The old Christmas song says Santa Claus “knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good; so be good, for goodness sake!”
Well, maybe Santa isn’t watching, but we know there really is someone who knows when we are sleeping and when we are awake. There is someone who does know when you’ve been bad or good, and that someone cares very deeply about what you do, and does indeed even say, be good for goodness sake!
God does see everything, and God does love you and does forgive you. But God also wants you to be good! The Bible is filled with his commands for you. I Thessalonians 5:21-22 says: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” Why? Because someone is coming. The very next verse says we should keep our whole spirit, soul, and body blameless because our Lord Jesus Christ is coming. Someone should have told Mickey Cohen that. They should have said, “Mickey, if you want to believe in Jesus, you should know something about what he expects of you; and that means no more killing, no more embezzling, no more prostitution, no more drugs. You are going to have to quit all that and get a regular job and BE GOOD.”
It isn’t only Mickey Cohen who needs to hear this. You and I also need to be told to be good— unless perhaps you think you are good enough? Jesus had many disagreements with the Pharisees, those who thought they were already ‘good enough,’ and who objected to an obviously good man like Jesus spending all his time with known ‘sinners.’ Jesus said, “I came not to heal the healthy, but the sick.”
Where are you at in your moral life? How are things with your soul? You are perhaps not a sinner in the category of Mickey Cohen or Tookie Williams. But what category would you put yourself in if you had only two to choose from– healthy or sick? Are you healthy, doing fine, with no need of Jesus’ forgiveness or command or power to change your life? Or, are you a sinner, sick and in need of Jesus to heal you?
There is a reminder here that we all, always need to hear. We have to keep working at being good. That is our command and our calling, to obey God in all things, little and big, because we are all very far from what God would want us to be.
Jesus is coming again at the end of the world, and then we will see him in person. But he is also already with us. “I will be with you always,” he said in his last words to his disciples. He is already, always here; always seeing and always knowing.
Keeping that image in mind will help us remember to be good. Remembering that Jesus is present at every conversation would have an influence on what we say. Remembering that Jesus is with us when we are watching TV or at the movies would have an influence on what we watch. Remembering that Jesus knows everything about your personal finances would have an impact on how you spend your money. Remembering that God is the giver of every good gift would have an impact on how much you complain and how much you give thanks.
Jesus is with us all the time, and that constant presence of Jesus is not only an incentive to do good and to be good. To know that Jesus is always with us is also the source of our greatest hope and comfort. Jesus is also with us in our sorrow and in our pain, in our fear and in our anxiety, in our loneliness, and in our worry. Jesus is with us by that hospital bed, in that waiting room, and by that grave. He is even there with those on death row, and there are many amazing stories of what the presence of Jesus has done even in that hopeless place. No matter what any of us must endure, we have the promise that there is a better day coming. Even those who will breathe their last breath today can have that hope and promise.
When Jesus came to earth as that baby born in Bethlehem, he came to stay.
Isaiah 29:15 — Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”
Psalm 33:13-14 — From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth.
I Thessalonians 5:15-23 — Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mark 2:17 — …Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 28:20b — (Jesus said), “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Galatians 6:7-10 — Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.
—Away in a Manger, verse 3