Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you you do you will save both yourself and your hearers.
I had just finished listening to a powerful sermon by William Willimon regarding the person in preaching. He spoke about how too often we allow the person–the messenger–to get in the way of the message.
This idea stuck in the back of my head, made me hesitate as I read Paul’s letter to Timothy. He is warning Timothy to watch his life and his doctrine.
It seems as though preachers and the church are really focused on making sure our lives remain in order. Focusing on life that they emphasize the self to such a degree that doctrine becomes neglible.
In Charlotte there is a loose evangelical gathering that meets Uptown. I am routinely asked why we don’t participate in this gathering, and the truth of the matter is that when I attended and spoke with their coordinator I was greatly disturbed by his claim, “We are not about doctrine.” Or as it was repeated in seminary, “Mission unites, Doctrine divides.” This dismissal of what is being said about God–doctrine–as divisive or unnecessary elevates our lives over God.
Paul recognizes, however, doctrine is as important to consider as our life. What we say about God is as important as how we live. And I dare say, like Willimon, what we say about God is actually more important that how we live. Yet the pendulum cannot swing back in the other direction, because these two can never be fully divorced; the word became flesh.