When we read Ephesians 5:25 —“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”—we say that husbands are to grow in their love for their wives toward the model of Christ’s love for the Church. But this verse also emphasizes that Jesus loved the Church, the people of God, so much that He died for them. The more we grow to become like Jesus, the more we will love His Church, too. We’ll be concerned with our local part of His Church and with the work of His Kingdom as a whole.
Christians who isolate themselves from the Church aren’t growing stronger by their isolation. They are like a body part that’s separated from the body.
In November of 1970 I tore the cartilage in my left knee during the last high school football game of the year. A doctor at Campbell’s Clinic in Memphis put my entire left leg in a cast. I couldn’t move it at all, so in a sense my left leg participated very little with the rest of my body. Even though I was at an age when my body was rapidly growing, the muscles in my left leg didn’t grow because they weren’t involved much with the rest of my body. In fact, those muscles atrophied, and it took a long time to build them back to a healthy condition. In the same way, the more we separate ourselves from participating in the life of the local Body of Christ and working for His Kingdom, the less we will grow.