We are fully engaged in the Christmas Season now. Stores feature big sales. Evergreen trees have popped up everywhere — loaded down with subtle to lovely to gaudy ornaments. Some of us are even reflecting on the original Christmas Story. A major movie release December 1 tells it anew in cinematic form.

So where will you and your family choose to focus during this season?

For some, 'tis the season of controversy. So it makes good press and good pulpit to decry the "secularization of Christmas." Nativity scenes are banned from public property in some places and featured in others. Some stores are having "holiday" sales and playing "winter" music. Others are having "Christmas" sales and playing "religious" music. Passions erupt. Left versus right. Sacred versus secular. Another chapter in the so-called culture wars is written.

For others, 'tis the season of spending. Some companies do the majority of their annual business during this one season. Some families ruin their annual budgets during the same period. And many individuals sweat the issue of buying for this person, but not for that one. Not a few now purchase and stock generic gifts in order to have a quick-response package for the person who unexpectedly puts something in his or her hands — in order not to offend.

For still others, 'tis the season of religion. People who otherwise never darken the door of a church building will attend a Christmas service. Most will prefer that it be decidedly musical over speaking, entertaining over instructive, inspiring over reflective. And they will have paid their dues for the season. Perhaps for the year.

But, what if the point of Christmas is not to "fight back against the secular folk" out there? People who don't believe in Jesus see us Christians as too quick to want to fight with them anyway. Sure, it's as silly to have Christ-mas with the Christ-references removed as to celebrate Lincoln's birthday without talking about our country's sixteenth president. And what if we buy gifts — but not with money we don't have — adjusting our spending to our budget? Mostly, however, maybe we could do something for our church or favorite charity. It's a good thing to let someone on really hard times know that someone cares.

And the religious parts — music, film, readings, sermons, and the like — can be part of the ongoing rhythm of life. It doesn't have to be seasonal. Don't shut it down on December 26. Let it be natural and easy. It will both connect you with those who share your faith and testify gently to those who don't.

What if the point of Christmas is not to ...
'Tis the season, all right. Let's try to use it in positive, appropriate ways.

Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world (1 Peter 1:12 NLT).