Welcome to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast, Episode #19. As we prepare for the midseason premiere on August 15th & 16th, we are going to take a look back at some of the major lessons we have drawn from the first eight episodes of Season 2.
1. HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE CHURCH
As Greenleaf continues its exploration of homosexuality and related issues in the black church, we must keep in mind what God has said about the matter. Leviticus 18:22 says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” We do not know where the directors and writers plan to take this story line, but we do know what God has said about it and how it should be dealt with in His real church. And as we did last year, we caution the directors and writers of Greenleaf to make sure they treat this subject in a fair and balanced fashion, understanding that the church as a whole, and the black church in particular stand against the sin of homosexuality as an abomination against God. One of the later episodes showed two of the characters who are apparently homosexuals hugging each other. As we said before, if Greenleaf wants to keep a good and growing audience over the long term, we would strongly caution them against graphic homosexual scenes. We would encourage Oprah, as a sister in Christ, not to let the liberals in Hollywood push her to make the show a means of depicting the church approving of homosexuality in any way. We encourage her to stand by what she told Entertainment Tonight in an interview before the show’s first season: “I am never going to be disrespectful to the church. It is the rock and foundation of who I am, so I would never do anything that disrespected that.” It is our prayer and hope that the directors would take our suggestion and follow the example of Watermark Church in Dallas which revoked the membership of an unrepentant homosexual. Believe it or not, it would be just as interesting and dramatic to show the church standing against the sin of homosexuality.
2. GOD’S PEOPLE STANDING AGAINST EVIL
While the show is obviously not intended to be instructional, the reaction by the deacons and some members to the homosexual music director bringing his “husband” to church points out that, if enough of God’s people speak out against evil being tolerated and approved of in the church, change can take place. When evil, such as openly homosexual individuals being in leadership in the church, begins creeping into a church, God’s people have a responsibility to pray about it and respond biblically and as God leads them. Whether it is speaking out publicly, attending a different church, or withholding tithes, there is always something we can do to stand with God and against sin.
3. GRACE’S BEHAVIOR REMINDS US NOT TO BE HYPOCRITES
As Christians, we ought not to live our lives in such a way that we have to be worried about who is watching us or whether any “people from the church” are around when we are in public. Jesus said, “Let your communication [your lifestyle] be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.” In other words, what you can say or do when you are not around church folk, you ought to be able to say and do when you are around church folk. Jesus continues, “For whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” If you can’t be the same around everyone, it’s highly likely you are doing stuff you shouldn’t be doing.
4. THE CHURCH IS GOD’S HOUSE, NOT A FAMILY ENTERPRISE
Many church leaders shamefully treat the church as if it is a family business and/or a competition with other churches/ministries. It isn’t either of those things. It is God’s house. It is all about bringing lost souls into the Kingdom and building them up so that they can become strong, stable believers. While the church can learn certain principles from the business world, churches should never forget that they are not a business whose only purpose is to make a profit, but a body whose only purpose is to save souls.
5. HOW SHOULD CHURCH LEADERS WHO SIN BE PUNISHED?
While Mac was kicked out of the good graces of Calvary and the Greenleaf family and did spend some time in jail for his crimes, Grace feels like he has not been punished enough. In the case of a pastor or elder against whom an accusation of sin is brought, the Bible provides the following guidelines in First Timothy 5:19-20: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” Public rebuke (and public humiliation), especially for a pastor or church leader, is often enough discipline to get that person back on the right track. It has the additional benefit of discouraging others who may have the same temptation. This is what the Bible requires. (Of course, if the person has committed a civil crime, he should willingly accept his punishment by governmental authorities.)
6. SHOW US THE GOOD CHURCH
Greenleaf is a show filled with drama and conflict, much of which is an accurate, if hyped, depiction of what really goes on behind closed doors in many black churches and black families. However, the secrets and sins of the Greenleaf family are not all that goes on in any church or family. A lot of good takes place within the four walls of churches and Christian families in America and around the globe. It would be good to see some of this depicted in Greenleaf as well. Writers call it pedestrianism.
7. THE BEAUTY OF BAPTISM
We get to see one of the show’s most beautiful and moving scenes. On the last day of Calvary’s Fall Revival, Grace’s daughter Sophia gives her life to Christ, and in the next scene, she is baptized by her grandfather Bishop James Greenleaf. Baptism is a very important experience in the life of the Christian as it speaks to us identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, something we have to make clear, especially in the black church, is that baptism does not save us. Baptism is only an outward expression of what is happening on the inside of us. So, what is happening inside of us when one is baptized after they are saved? Colossians 2:11 says that we are “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision [sanctification] of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also we are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
8. A WORD FOR THOSE WHO ARE THINKING OF LEAVING THE CHURCH
In recent years, many people have abandoned their church, giving rise to a class of ex-church members who say they have no use for the church but still believe in God. Many have left the church over reasons similar to that which Grace is struggling with — various types of abuse by church leaders (sexual, financial, doctrinal, etc.) as well as the feeling of helplessness that comes when those who do wrong in the church community seem to get away with it. To anyone who feels like they are drifting from the Christian faith or contemplating leaving the church, understand that only God is perfect. We must find our comfort, our solace — and our justice — in Him, not in other human beings, no matter how heinous their crimes and how wicked their ways. As Bishop Greenleaf tells Grace, “Vengeance is God’s business and when we try to take the wheel from God, we quickly find ourselves in a ditch.”
Lord willing, we will see you each Wednesday over the next eight weeks as we continue looking at the Gospel according to Greenleaf.
In closing, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can be forgiven of your sins. God is available to hear your prayer of confession and to hear you ask to be saved from sin and from the punishment of sin which is eternal hell and separation from God. And you can begin a light-filled relationship with God Almighty today.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s laws. You have done some bad things. You have broken the commandments of God. So have I. And so has the Pope. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…” We die physically because of sin and we go to hell to burn forever, to be tormented forever because of our sin. God does not put us into hell; we put ourselves into hell because of our sin.
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ, the loving Lord of glory, preached more on hell than anybody in the Bible. He preached more on hell than he did about Heaven. He said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Now that is bad news, and I know most people do not want to hear any bad news. But you have to hear the bad news because the good news is good news because there is bad news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins. He is the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, your sins and mine. And all we have to do is trust Him and believe that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you and me so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
And please believe these words found in Romans 10:9 & 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Saved from what? Saved from sin and the punishment of sin which is hell.
If you believe in your heart on the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer and mean it from your heart: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life — even some of the sins being brought out in this show called Greenleaf. I am sorry for my sins, and today, please have mercy upon me a sinner. I believe with all of my heart that You died for me, was buried, and rose again. Now, Lord I pray that You would fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me to repent of my sins and to follow You for the rest of my life for Your glory, praise, and honor, and, from this point on, to be the shining light that You want me to be. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray, and for His sake, Amen.
Beloved friend, if you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read my pamphlet titled, “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Until next time, my beloved, may God bless you and keep you. We look forward to seeing you for the next Gospel According to Greenleaf podcast.