“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:16
I just read an essay by C.S. Lewis that changed my conception of exactly what the church is.
Lewis says that Christianity is neither for the individual nor for the masses. It is for a body. We are saved through membership in the body. That is why Paul refers to Christ as “the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Ephesians 5:23) Because Christ is the head, what belongs to him also belongs to his body. Or in Lewis’s words, “We shall share in the victory by being in the Victor.”
Now I’m not saying that you have to belong to a local church to be saved. What I am saying is that Christianity cannot be practiced in isolation. Rick Warren wrote, “I can’t imagine saying to Jesus . . . ‘I accept you, but I reject your body.'”
You can’t call yourself a follower of Christ if you aren’t part of the church he created. That would be like a severed finger declaring itself an independent person. All the members of Christ’s body are meant to live and grow together. If you aren’t a part of that body, it’s crucial that you find your place in it.