Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art THOU, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
A person becomes a Christian by believing that Jesus Christ is Lord, the One Who died for their sins and was raised from the dead (Romans 10:9, 10). Those who are saved have answered the call to salvation but we are called to more than to believe but also to belong. Jesus revealed He came to build more than a personal relationship with individuals when He said, “…I will build my church…,” Matthew 16:18. Jesus mission was not just to establish individuals in a personal relationship to Him (like Peter had a revelation of) but also build them together into a relationship with each other (the church). The meaning of the word church shows more than an individual with a relationship to Jesus. The Greek word is “ekklesia” (“ek”- out from and “klesia”- from “kaleo” to call and the assembly); so the called out assembly or the ones called out to assemble. Originally the ones called out had reference to the legislative body of citizens of the Greek republic called out from their homes to convene, discuss matters of authority, and serve their community. Jesus chose this word to describe what He came to build.
The Church is also called the Body of Christ. Paul calls the church His Body Ephesians 1:22, 23. The Body is not one member but many (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 20, and 27) and yet we being many are one Body in Christ (Romans 12:4, 5). How can a person say I have a relationship to Jesus (the Head of a Body called the Church) but do not need the Church (Ephesians 1:22, 23)? That would require decapitation of the Head from the Body, a very bloody event To refuse to want to be a part of the Body is to say we do not want to follow God’s plan and that we have our own plan. Can you see the arrogance in this thinking?
All of the metaphors (figures of speech using a term, phrase, or symbol to represent or resemble something else) used to describe different aspects of the church imply something beyond an individual relationship with Jesus and being a part of something bigger than oneself: Body of Christ; Family; Temple; Tabernacle; House of God; Flock of God; Spiritual stones; Spiritual House; Holy nation; Citizens of a kingdom; Bride of Christ; Royal Priesthood; Mt. Zion (city of the Living God); The New Jerusalem.
In our American culture we stress the individual and our individuality. This can keep us from grasping what Jesus came to build which is the Church, which is not one individual member but many. We are born again to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are called to belong not just believe.