Our generation celebrates selfish individualism. “Since the rise of modern individualism,” notes Dr. Graham Cole, “it comes as so natural in the West to think first of the atom and next, if at all, of the molecule. Or put another way, we concern ourselves with the one and next, if at all, with the many. However, as we shall see, the accent in the scriptural revelation is otherwise. God is making a people for himself.”
This was Jesus perspective. The way we relate to the church, specifically local identifiable churches, is how we relate to Christ. When Jesus revealed himself to Paul he said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And [Saul] said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4–5). Note the sequence of thought. Paul was aggressively persecuting the early church. But Jesus said it was really himself that Paul was persecuting. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME?”
Brothers and sister, how we relate to the local church is how we relate to Jesus. At least that is way he sees it.
Graham Cole, He Who Gives Life, (Wheaton: Crossway 2007) pg 35