Singer Andy Williams in a 1963 proclaimed that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

A agree wholeheartedly.

I love everything about Christmas. And I mean everything!

Topping the list are a big beautifully over-decorated tree, way too many lights covering homes, delicious fattening cookies and eggnog (no diets during the holidays allowed) and, office parties where discussions ultimately just turn into semiformal complaints, family get-togethers where the same old stories are repeated for the 1000th time, and, of course, presents!

I’m not even afraid to admit I love the yard-consuming inflatables.

Yet that just encompasses one part of Christmas. Like I said, I love everything about Christmas.

That includes celebrating the true “reason for the season.” I’m talking, of course, the birth of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

But when I celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’m not just honoring a birthday, what I’m really focusing on is the day Earth welcomed perfect salvation, agape love, hope above all hope, peace beyond measure and soul-enriching joy – all of that in the form a tiny baby. What I’m truly celebrating is that God came to Earth for a visit because I was desperately going to need Him some 2,000 years later.

According to crossway.org, “the name ‘Jesus’ or ‘Joshua’ derives from Hebrew roots meaning ‘the Lord of salvation.’”

So, give me the Christmas trees, decorations, yummy treats, parties, families and presents and I’ll be happy, but let me celebrate the birth of the “Lord of salvation” and, well, I’m in Heaven (pun intended).

MORE: Click here to read more about name of Jesus

Salvation

Merriam-Webster defines salvation as “deliverance from the power and effects of sin; liberation from ignorance or illusion, preservation from destruction or failure; deliverance from danger or difficulty.”

The Oxford dictionary says salvation is “a way of protecting someone from danger, disaster, loss, etc.”

I always add that, to me, salvation is protecting me from “danger, disaster, loss, etc.” because the human race, me included, is not going to do what’s necessary to protect ourselves.

Let me explain with this example:

I believe that God always (and I mean always) gives us a solution to life’s problems; we just need to search hard enough for it. With this in mind, I believe we can – and will someday – cure cancer.  And I believe we could find the cure within just a few months if we really wanted to. I mean -like really wanted to.

But the whole world would have to get involved, and that’s the problem.

Just think, if for three months, the world agreed there would be no war. Not only would it save countless lives in itself, but then imagine we take all the money we spend on tanks, planes, ships, bullets, guns, bullet-proof vests, drones, spy satellites and … well, you get the picture … and spend it on cancer research. We would find a cure quickly!

Then imagine we redirected the great scientific minds that are creating more efficient ways to kill the enemy or ways to prevent us from being killed by the enemy, and we channeled their energies into finding a cure for cancer. We would find it quickly!

And then after curing cancer we could shift the focus over to other diseases, or to making homes and buildings tornado-proof, or to having shelters for people in the paths of hurricanes and creating a way to get everyone there safely, or … well, this list could go on and on.

The sad fact, though, is that we as the human race choose not to do this – or something along these lines.

And thusly it stands to reason, if we’re not going to do it, then who can save us?

Of course, now we know the answer – Jesus Christ.

John offers an answer so clear, so easy to understand, that it has become two of the most famous verses in the New Testament, maybe in the entire Bible: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, the whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Yes, Jesus is God’s gift of salvation.

Paraphrasing Ephesians 2:8, it is through grace that we have been saved, a gift from God.

Agape love

I marvel at our ability to love. I have read about many, and even witnessed a few, incredible acts of love. I spent years studying love from just about every angle I could imagine.

Yet I will never be able to fully comprehend agape love.

Christianity.com says agape love “is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.”

MORE: click here to read more about agape love

I love knowing that since I’m made in God’s image I am capable of agape love. I am sad, however, of the fact that as a fallible human I’m going to fall short of it.

Yet Jesus showed us that it is possible – He lived it.

Two scriptures that best sum up Jesus’ agape love to me are John 15:9 and Romans 5:8:

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you.”

“But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

Hope above all hope

I am full of hope.

I hope I live a good, clean life. I hope I die in my sleep. I hope my family stays healthy and happy. I hope I don’t squander away opportunities. I hope I don’t aggravate my wife too much. I hope my sons are successful. And blah, blah, blah.

I’m even hopeful that I will be full of hope my whole life.

But the things I’m hopeful for pale in comparison to the hope Jesus Christ has given me:

Salvation, eternal life, purpose…. the list goes on and on. And we have the hope of a new identity in a life with Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

All of this can only be summed up as “hope above all hope.”

It is in Romans 15:13 that we read, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Peace beyond measure

I have been able to live most of my life in peace. I had a Mickey Mouse childhood and pretty much have had it as easy my whole life. As a kid my biggest concerns were if we should play street football or ghost in the graveyard. As an adult it’s been should I go to Disney World or a dinner theater.

But to truly know peace, an inner peace that just consumes you, I believe you have to know – and I mean truly know — Jesus Christ.

Meditate hard on the Lord’s Prayer found in John 17 to really understand what I’m talking about.

A quick summary of the chapter; Jesus is praying, likely close to His arrest, and ultimate crucifixion, yet His prayer is not for Himself, but for us – and for us to have peace.

You’ll see phrases in John 17 like these:

“so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them.”

“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you.”

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Phillipians 4:6-7 proclaims “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Soul-enriching joy

I still like signing with kids “I’ve got that joy joy, joy, joy- down in my heart.”

Yep, that’s four joys right there in that lyric. That’s a lot of joy.

Yet it still doesn’t do justice to the “joy down in my heart” since I gave my life to Jesus.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” says 2 Corinthians 5:17.

And then there’s John 15:11: “ I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Summary

This is what I love about Christmas — and don’t even get me started on Easter.