My family eats gluten free. My wife has been cooking gluten free for most of our marriage and is actually quite skilled at it. She can bake really good bread, chocolate chip cookies, scones, etc. But I think there’s something inherently off about the gluten free culture. The gf culture is completely concerned with mimicry. All they do is try to recreate gluten-filled foods. They spend great energy (and lots of money!) trying to make bread that is as close to wheat bread as possible. But it is not wheat bread. It’s an impostor. It’s a faker. Instead of a cup of wheat flour you end up throwing in a little brown rice flour, xanthum gum, tapioca starch, and corn starch among other things. It’s not wheat bread. Some really good bakers can make gluten free pastries that taste nearly identical to regular pastries. Its awesome. I love it and crave it.
For quite some time the church has been the same. With regard to being creators (like a baker) they’ve been completely consumed with mimicry. For years there was no innovation or creativity, they’d look at the world around them and try to create “Jesus-versions” of what they saw. Like gluten free food they spend all their time trying to look like everyone around them…but they’re not everyone around them. The TV show Glee is creative and it has an identity, but this is not creative and its identity is tied up completely in being a crappy and cheesy version of something else (a terrible identity to own!). That shirt isn’t creative. It’s not cool. Its a faker and an impostor. Even still, however, some Christians crave this stuff. They buy up cheesy ‘Jesus knock offs’ like mad and sport those shirts with pride.
What if both groups (gluten free eaters and Christians) stop trying to be something they’re not? What if they both come to peace with who they are and stop trying to copycat those around them? What if gluten free eaters started viewing healthy and delicious eating apart from a wheat existence? Fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, nuts…they could live off this stuff quite happily if they own it. Christians would be better off if they simply owned who they were. If they stopped defining themselves based on who they aren’t and started defining themselves based on who they are (and could be) everyone would be better off. Caring for the poor, compassion toward the marginalized, and taking risks for the sake others are all things Christians should own. I love seeing Christians wearing more t-shirts with non-profits on them because they better represents their identity. Other Christians refuse to wear labels on their clothes because they don’t want to be defined by these labels and neither do they want to support businesses that propagate pain in the world.
Own it. It’s a risky move, you’ll lose yourself before you find yourself, but at least it’ll be real…and I think it’ll actually be better.