If you have trusted in Jesus Christ alone to be rescued from your sin and to be made right with God, then you are a true Christian. But you are not only a Christian. What I mean is this: You are not merely an individual believer living out an individual faith. You are that, but you are also something else. A basketball is a sphere but it is also a ball. If you are a real Christian, you are not merely your own; you are also a part of something.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
We are not merely singular Christians wading through this life. And we are not merely individual local churches, either. All who have truly have believed in the Gospel are a part of the body and bride of Jesus Christ, all churches who truly preach that Gospel are a part of His wider, advancing Kingdom.
To be a true Christian is to be a member of the people (not “peoples”) of God. And so to be a Christian and despise the church is to despise yourself, and to despise the one for whom Jesus bled.
And to be a true Christian and yet refuse to fellowship with a local church is to refuse to be who you are, and who you were ransomed to be.
And to be a true Christian church and to refuse to see yourself as a part of a bride who spans farther than your own address and your own century is to disown your brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters who have the same inheritance as you.
If we are truly God’s then we are a part of something. If we are His, then we are His together with the others who have been called from darkness into light. We are individuals, and we are local churches, but we are not only individuals and we are not only local churches. We are a part of a Kingdom that exists within those borders (and beautifully), but also spans miles beyond them.
We are ourselves, but not only ourselves.
There are many members and there are many churches, but there will be only one wedding feast and only one bride.
Jesus is no polygamist.