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. (1 Corinthians 12:12)
In our culture, it has been more and more fashionable to have a “do it yourself” religion. People pick and choose viewpoints they like about various things, shape their “doctrines” to match the ideas they like, and then fly solo with a religious life that is primarily individual focused. Many of these people will say things like, “I don’t need to belong to a church to believe in God.” Most of these people in our context still consider themselves Christian in some way, and it is not our job to be too judgmental about this.
But at the same time, Biblical Christianity is not an individual religion. We are baptized into the body of Christ and as we are joined to Jesus, we are joined to all others who are joined to Jesus too. The risen Christ draws a community of people to himself and individuals who are joined to him belong to this community. No one can boast that they are independent and self-sufficient and still claim the name of Jesus.
The church is called to be the best expression of Christ’s presence in the world today. We gather around God’s Word to proclaim the Gospel of that same word made flesh in Jesus. We celebrate the sacraments to honor God’s baptismal claim on our lives and to eat and drink to honor Christ’s presence in our midst. We are sent out bearing Christ’s presence to the world as our feet, hands and voices continue the ministry of Jesus in our time and place.
When the Apostle Paul wrote the verse above, it was part of a letter to the people of Corinth who had lost track of the essential nature of the church and how connected they were to each other. Many centuries later these words are still useful. If we belong to Jesus, we belong to each other. Our faith does not make us self-sufficient – quite the opposite. Our faith connects us to Christ and to each other.