Healthy churches are no accident. Paul knew this. In his letter to the Ephesian church the apostle guided them toward growing up into Christ. What he prescribed would produce a church being built up in love.
Later in his pastoral letter of 1 Timothy, Paul counseled Timothy to take strong action in order that the church might be a thriving community of love. In both cases, Paul’s prescription for spiritual health involved ideas. Ideas matter.
To assist the church at Ephesus, Paul’s pen charted the steps from behavioral darkness to living a life of love in the light. Life in Christ entails more than just jettisoning sinful behavior, although this needs to be done. At its core it requires learning of Christ in order to overhaul one’s thinking (Ephesians 4:17-19).
The thoughts that drove self-centeredness dissipate as the mind of Christ grows within us. The beliefs that empowered valuing vengeance give way to a new perspective pursuing peace and forgiveness. The ways of Christ transform our thinking giving birth to discipleship behavior. Ideas matter.
The reverse is also true. False ideas corrupt godly behavior. It was for this reason that Paul charged Timothy to “instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies” (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Such ideas would produce speculation as well as thwart the work God desires (1 Timothy 1:4).
For the church to be a place of love and not quarreling, diseased teachings had to stop (1 Timothy 6:3-5). Ideas matter.
This is why Paul guided Timothy into taking the strong action of shutting down the opposing religious voices. Love could grow, but it would require “a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
If we wish to tread in Paul’s steps in following Christ, we will not claim that teachings or doctrines don’t matter. Rather, we will ensure that what we teach comes from God, not man. Ideas matter.