So. Much. Drama! Does Greenleaf Hurt The Church?
Yes Lawd, Greenleaf is back in all its dysfunctional, drama-filled, might-be-saved, glory! And listen, I’ve been watching since Bishop Greenleaf’s first fake preaching scene! Bless his heart Jesus! I have absolutely loved watching Lynne Whitfield give us every single thing she’s got as an actress in her role as Lady Mae, and this season’s first 2 episodes promises even more of her oftentimes, Cruella Deville-ish attitude.
To most church folk, we recognize the fiction and intensified drama that comes along with trying to keep the show in production.
I mean seriously. Everyone had an “I know you lying” reaction in Season 3 when Zora cussed at her mama, and NOTHING HAPPENED! The truth of the matter is this, if any one of us were so moved by the voices in our head to EVA talk back to our black mamas, we would have heard and then personally experienced the phrase “I brought you into this world and I’ll take you out”.
As we continue to watch the show, we can witness the complexities of each character as they struggle with the concept of being spiritual beings living a natural experience (Go ahead Donald Lawrence). And it’s important for both believers and non-believers to remember that “the church” is made up of regular sinful people trying to get it right.
Besides, we’ve met all the characters already.
The Nasty Nice Saint. Supposedly “telling it like it is”, while pointing out the flaws in everybody else. Uses the phrase “Holiness is Right” and has no problem sending folk straight to hell on roller skates dipped in Vaseline. Smiles for appearances. Also known as Lady Mae.
The Martyr. The one everyone loves and adores. A nice person who earnestly tries to “live right”. Extremely invested in assisting everyone else, so no one will ever see his/her flaws. Also known as Grace Greenleaf.
The Insecure One. Selfish. Immature. Gifted. But so worried about other people’s anointing and gifting that s/he becomes envious, jealous, and covetous. Also a person who was never told “Go get a switch off the tree” as a child, and it shows! Also known as Charity Greenleaf.
The Prodigal Son. Also selfish and insecure. Is so focused on becoming the Great Black Hope, that s/he will risk family and friends for popularity and position. Also known as Jacob Greenleaf.
The Power Seeker. Main focus is to build and sustain a legacy. Will manipulate, lie, and deceive to secure and maintain power. Also known as Bishop Greenleaf.
And let’s not forget the other characters, like Kerissa, who grew 3 inches of hair and decided she would Set It Off; Zora, who has needed a good old-fashioned whooping since season one; and Sophia, who’s personal mantra was “Lord I’m running trying to make 100, 99 and a half won’t do”, until personal tragedy caused a major faith crisis.
Note: Where is Oprah hiding? Someone go find Mavis’ petty self!
The point is this; all these characters are flawed. And if we are honest, regardless of our church involvement or faith development, we can see some of our own personal flaws reflected in these characters.
Message: People are messy PERIODT!
Despite these flaws, we can see each character’s duality, which is best described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Rome:
Paul goes on to talk about the influence of sin and the way in which it continually causes us to do the things we know we should not do, and our constant struggle between the spirit and flesh.
This is the conflict we’ve witnessed throughout Greenleaf’s four seasons.
So, Does Greenleaf Make The Church Look Bad?
Despite some theological flaws in the show; like the time Bishop told Mac that hell did not exist (chile, YES), Greenleaf continues to do something right to keep viewers coming back. But, does it shine a negative light on the church?
That’s a good question!
The reality is this; folk will use any reason to justify their personal perspective. For example, a person who is disconnected from the body of believers, might very well watch Greenleaf and declare “See...that’s why I don’t go to church”. While on the other hand, those connected to the body of believers might watch and say “This is why no one will ever want to become a Christian”.
While everyone has the right to have their own opinion, those in the “Church” as well as those outside of the church need to put some things in context.
People use the term “The Church” to paint the picture of who Christ is. This is an incorrect view of Christ. While as believers, we are called to be “the church”, we know that we are saved by grace, in spite of our mess, and through the sanctifying power of a perfect Holy Spirit, we strive to reach perfection.
In other words, while Christians are called to emulate Christ, because we are always in a wrestling match with our flesh, we have flaws that only the Holy Spirit can remove. As spiritual maturity occurs and we grow in our faith, we can be more Christ-like in our everyday interactions.
The issues that we see in the modern church are not new. Remember, The early church were groups of people who lived, fellowshiped, and worshiped together within community. And yes, there was drama. If you don’t believe me, read 1st Corinthians!
Chile, they were over in Corinth wildin’ out!
There were all kinds of divisions in the church. Church folk were suing each other. Folk were more worried about which preacher to follow rather than following Jesus. They were spiritually immature and using their gifts to glorify themselves instead of God. And let’s not forget about the man who was sleeping with his stepmother.
Paul addressed these issues one by one, and basically continued to remind the church of this one thing; “Ya’ll need Jesus”.
We too, need Jesus!
The truth is, the magnitude of God will never be able to be explained in a television series. It takes a personal relationship to begin to understand the nature and character of Almighty God.
However, for the believer, we need to make sure that we are leading Christ-like lives so the world’s view of the church is not skewed by sensationalized television drama. Therefore, if we can honestly examine ourselves and find characteristics of The Nasty Nice Saint, The Martyr, The Insecure One, The Prodigal Son, or The Power Seeker, we must ask the Holy Spirit to remove those things from us.
And while we work on that, we will tune in to see if the Greenleaf’s can get their church back from this fly by night denomination, Hope and Happiness…Healing and Harmony…Heaven and Hell…or whatever it’s called!