"in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21-22)Jesus came not only to bring salvation to individuals, but to take those individuals and join them together as one corporate man. We cannot separate our salvation from our call to membership in a greater body of believers. Christianity was never meant to be lived alone but rather to be lived in concert with other believers in such a way as to fully reveal Christ to the world.
Paul says that we are being "fitted together." This particular Greek word means to be brought into close relationship, or to be organized in a close compact way. While our salvation begins by affecting us individually, our growth in Christ continues as we allow ourselves to be joined relationally with other believers. This is more than a passive association with other Christians, this is more than occupying a pew on Sunday morning, it is allowing ourselves to be vitally connected with other believers in relationships that are real, honest, and submissive to the grace of God in each other's life.
Paul often describes our corporate existence together, that being the church, as a body, "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ." (1 Corinthians 12:12) When Paul speaks of "members" he is not referring to the multitude of people who make up the church, but to the individual parts of the body. This particular Greek word literally means a limb and can even mean an organ in the body. What Paul is saying is that we each fulfill a part, or function, of the body. Some may be a hand, a foot, an eye, or a lung but we are all part of the same body. Our relationship to each other is necessitated by our need for that part of the body that the other person represents. If God has placed us in the body as an eye than we need the feet to get around and, visa-versa, the feet need the eyes to know where to go. Paul put it this way, "For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." (Romans 12:4-5) Our relationship with one another is not based upon position, hierarchy, or title but on our mutual functions within the body that draws us relationally together. The truth is that we need each other and others need us. It is only when we learn to live relationally and to fulfill our assigned function one to another that we all grow together unto God. It is only then that God is truly expressed through His body to the world.
The ultimate goal of our union with one another as the body of Christ is that Christ might dwell within and among us and express Himself through us. Christ lives in us individually as Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20) But Christ also lives in us corporately, in His church, as Jesus said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Matthew 18:20) We can know Christ in His indwelling in our lives, but there is a greater knowledge of Christ that is found when we are in right relationship with His church. Both are necessary and one cannot replace the other. We need to know Him both individually and corporately if we are to fulfill God's design and plan for our lives, both individually and in His church.
Finally, we must always remember that it is in Him that we are being built together and joined together as one body in Christ. It is not unto a man, a doctrine, or a tradition that we are being built together, but into Him. If we try to form our relationships and our unity apart from Him we will fail and we will miss the goal of our union with each other in Christ. It is only as we carefully build His church in Him that we will succeed and, through that church, demonstrate God to the world.