“I Used Your Recipe. But I Omitted 2 Ingredients And Substituted A Couple. Yet It’s Still Your Recipe.” Or Is It?

A recipe for a delicious looking Brussels sprouts side dish came across my FaceBook newsfeed. I saved it, thinking I would make it one night for our supper. The ingredients were simple; Brussels sprouts, garlic, heavy whipping cream or half-and-half, bacon, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. The author listed specific amounts of each ingredient to be used.

The night that I made the dish, I read the directions. I planned to follow the directions. I tried. I followed the preparation and cooking portion of the instructions. But giving in to my own tastes and opinions caused me to significantly veer from the author’s ingredient list.

I saw some fresh vegetables in the refrigerator which needed to be used before they spoiled; cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. I thought that these would enhance the taste of the dish. So, I added them. Due to the additional vegetables, I added more half-and-half than was called for in the recipe. I did not have the needed amounts of parmesan or mozzarella cheeses, so I purchased an Italian blend at the store. Although the recipe called for 2/3 of a bag, I poured the entire contents over the concoction. (After all, who doesn’t like melted cheese.)

What started out as one person’s Brussels sprouts side dish became my vegetable medley bake.

The dish was delicious. My wife and I agreed that I should try to recreate it.  But we also agreed that the baked mixture could serve as a main dish rather than a side dish if chicken was added.

A couple of weeks later, I tried to make the dish again, just as I had made it before; only this time I planned to add chicken. I read the original directions, starting with the Brussels sprouts as the main ingredient. I used the author’s preparation and cooking instructions. I threw in my additional vegetables. However, this time, I added a greater quantity of each to the pot. I could not find fresh garlic, so I tried to substitute garlic flakes. I did not sprinkle in enough. By the time I added the half-and-half, the hot skillet I was using was filled to the brim so I had to pour the concoction into a pre-warmed Dutch oven.

Needless to say, the dish did not taste the same as the first time that I made it. It was alright, but not the same.

Yesterday, my wife tried her hand at recreating the dish. But like all good chefs, her intent from the beginning was to bake her version of the concoction. She read the author’s original recipe; the one that called for Brussels sprouts to be the only vegetable ingredient. She followed the preparation and cooking instructions. But her ingredient list veered significantly from either the author’s or mine. She omitted the Brussels sprouts entirely. She omitted the carrots. She used heavy whipping cream instead of half-and-half. She used a different blend of cheeses.

My wife’s vegetable dish was delicious. I hope that she can recreate it. But the words she used to describe her inspiration are the motivation for this blog.

She told me, “I used your recipe.”

I had no recipe. I simply started with someone else’s formula for a baked Brussels sprouts side dish, and tried to transform it into a main dish by adding the ingredients I wanted or had available. My wife started with the same baked Brussels sprouts side dish recipe, and tried to transform it into her own personal main dish, omitting the ingredients she dislikes and substituting the ones she finds tasteful.

In the end, three separate dishes have been created; the author’s, mine, and my wife’s

Spiritually, many within Christendom approach the church in the same way we approach cooking. In the Bible, God has told us and shown us how he wants his church organized, the type of worship he wants it to offer, and how he wants his church to fulfill its mission of evangelizing the world.

But we are not satisfied with God’s instructions. They are too basic.  They are too simple. They do not satisfy our tastes or our need for adrenalin producing excitement.

So, some of us start adding our own ideas to the church’s organization, to its worship, and to its work; we put in that which excites and invigorates us; we omit that which we consider boring or offensive.

Then when we each have our own version of the church, we turn to God and say, “I used your recipe.” We imply, “What I have designed and made is exactly what you intended.”

But what we have is an organization suited to our own taste and not made according to God’s original instructions. We have a denomination. We have a social club. We have a community activist organization. But we do not have the church.

The only way that we can have the church is to go back to the original, and to restore it, using God’s recipe.

“Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13)

“I therefore a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)

“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:14-16)

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)


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