Ideas and structures are important only insofar as they glorify God and (especially in the case of religious ideas and structures) save the souls of men. If we ever love the idea more than we love God or man, then we’ve lent our hearts to a very seductive idol with a very long historical shadow: The idol of hollowed out religiosity. Even if it goes by a non-religious name (think “Communism”), even if it looks almost like a mirror image of Godly faithfulness, if the engine of an idea, movement, or philosophy isn’t love of God and love for mankind then it is, at its core, a flimsy God-substitute, and its faithful are indeed kneeling in its temple.
The Israelite King Jereboam still wanted religion, but not so much (anymore) the Creator, and so he set up golden idols in cities far from Solomon’s temple. I’m sure they were beautiful and visually striking and emotionally resonant and, of course, as dead as two bags of rocks. And the Pharisees in Jesus’ day loved the Law (the Old Testament, or at the very least the first section of it) because they loved the praise (and jealousy, I believe) of men as they recited it and taught its phrasing and appeared to obey it better than the masses.
It is possible, I know from experience, to have a form of religion while not tasting of the power of God. It is possible to love a good idea, even the best of ideas, and be totally in the dark, spiritually. And praise be to Jesus that it is also possible to be forgiven of it.
If we ever love a church structure more than we love the glory of God instead of maintaining a church structure because we love the glory of God, we’re turning a good thing into an idol. And if we ever love our theology more than we love the saints or the lost instead of treasuring theology because we love the saints and the lost, we’re worshiping backwards and at the wrong altar.
The old Christian confession of Westminster says that the chief end of man is to worship God and enjoy Him forever. I concur with it, there.
And mistaking the means for the end is always a costly proposition.