Here’s another excerpt from my book, Love Me, Love My Wife: Ten Reasons Every Christian Must Join a Local Church. (It’s available on Amazon, here: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Me-My-Wife-Christians/dp/1725266296/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=love+me+love+my+wife+erlandson&qid=1608692778&sr=8-2)
Jesus Christ has a Body, of which each individual Christian is to be a member. If you are living as a Christian without being part of the local church, you are like a body part trying to live without being part of the body. In bodies, this leads quickly to death. In the lives of Christians, it leads to spiritual death, but much more slowly.
Maybe a simple diagram will help.
Many Christians believe that the relationship between Jesus, the Church, and the individual believer looks like this:
In this view, Jesus has a personal and individual relationship with each Christian believer, apart from the Church. The Church is at the end of this relationship and is seen as optional. Since each believer has his own relationship directly with Jesus, he doesn’t need the Church. Now he may want it as a devotional aid, something to help him in his personal walk with God, but he doesn’t need it.
But the way God portrays the relationship is actually like this:
Jesus has established a close, personal union with His Bride and His Body, the Church. Individual Christians are members of Christ only when they are also members of the Church. Remember: members can only live in relation to the whole body.
When Paul calls the Church the Body of Jesus Christ, he really means it. The Church is His physical, bodily presence on earth.