1 Corinthians 12:12-13 says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” First of all, the very nature of the church is one of unity. Every person that has been saved and have placed their faith in Jesus Christ has been immediately baptized into one united spiritual body. And as a result no matter what their ethnicity or other differences might be, all believers are joined together as part of the same universal body of Christ. Verse 18 also says that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” God particularly designed it so that all those whom He would save would be placed into the body; He literally arranged each individual member as a part of the whole body. Therefore, the idea of a “lone-wolf” type of Christian is completely foreign to what the Bible says. A Christian who is not regularly attending his local church is living an unbiblical lifestyle.
One may argue that such a person is still a part of the universal body of Christ though he is not a part of a local body. However, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that every believer is to be part of not only the universal church of Christ but also a part of a local church as well. First of all, most all of the New Testament was written and addressed specifically to a local church or a group of local churches. And in these epistles there are many commands laid out for Christians to behave righteously in the context of the local church. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” And John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Romans 12:10-13 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” In short, all Christians should be meeting regularly with one another, encouraging one another, loving one another, and contributing to one another’s needs. And not just these but all of the many “one-anothers” in the New Testament clearly teach the necessity for all believers to be an involved member of a local body. To not be associated with a local church would be to forsake these commands from God altogether. Therefore, the Bible clearly defines the establishment of local churches and thus teaches that all members of the universal body need to associate themselves together in the local body too.
Not only must all Christians associate themselves with their local body, but they must also work diligently to preserve the unity of that local body. Ephesians 4:1-6 says, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” One of the things that most pleases God is a church that is walking in unity in His Spirit. The Greek word for “worthy” is axios which literally means “weighing, having weight.” The idea is of a scale weighing the worth of something. So, how do you walk worthy? The text says walking worthy is to walk with all humility, gentleness, patience, love, and… to maintain the unity of the Spirit which is speaking of the local church. That last bit is key. Walking worthy is specifically to be done in the context of the church. Life spent in the church is worthy living. And every kind of attitude and intention that serves to promote the maintaining of unity in the church is worthy. On the flipside, anything and everything that can detract from the unity of the local church is unworthy. All differences in opinion and self-will must be forfeited and subdued in favor of maintaining spiritual unity. Whatever issue, belief, behavior, or object that could possibly divide and split the church, that thing must be forfeited and subdued in favor of preserving and protecting unity of God’s church.