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The movie and television industries exist to promote entertainment fantasy. One of the latest fads is the “reality” show. The only problem is that there is almost nothing even remotely “real” about these shows. So what?! Selling fantasy is about creating feelings not delivering facts. Except for a few documentaries and such, the purpose of television programming in general is to provoke emotions.

It is sometimes difficult in matters of religion to balance the dual presence of both facts and emotions. Some have argued that religion is exclusively about facts and there is no place for feelings. Not true. Others seem to care only about emotional responses and have little regard for truth. 

Feelings are not equal to truth. Jacob grieved over the death of his son, Joseph, and could not be consoled by the rest of the family, (Gen. 37:33-35) even though Joseph was in fact not dead. The so-called evidence presented to Jacob led him to conclude his son was dead. Those “facts,” though deceptive, caused Jacob to “feel” exactly the same as if Joseph was truly dead.

In Acts 23:1, Paul stated that he had lived with a clean conscience before God all his life. Later, to Timothy, he would say that he was the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), guilty of blasphemy and violence (v. 13). How could both be true? Simple, Paul actually did the deeds of animosity and destruction against the church while denying that Jesus was the Christ. However, since Paul believed he was fighting for God he felt good about his actions. Later, when he learned that he was wrong in what he had believed and was wrong in what he had done he felt very bad about the same actions he had previously felt good about. 

Jacob’s feelings of loss did not change the truth about Joseph. Paul’s feelings of zeal in persecuting Christians did not change the fact that he was wrong and was harming the church of Christ.

Whether one is in a lost or saved condition cannot be ascertained by the emotions that one feels. It is one’s obedience to the word of God, and not feelings, that determines salvation. However, when one has come to understand the truth of God, it is normal, and expected, that feelings will follow. The response of the Jews in Acts 2:37 shows that a proper understanding of the truth of the gospel can bring about deep convictions and that obedience to the word of God can also evoke great emotions “and he went on his way rejoicing,” (Acts 8:39).

Tim Orbison
Maysville church of Christ
Gurley, AL

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