Jesus says in Luke 14:26-33, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
We see that God's requirements are severe, but the reward is great. As we lose ourselves, forsaking all, we gain all. Until we come to this place of forsaking all, we cannot gain all. As long as we seek to entertain, rather than allowing the Spirit of God to draw believers into the oneness of Christ, we will fail. Only as we start to be God-conscious rather than self-conscious can we begin to experience the oneness of the body of Christ, coming back to God's purpose and realizing God in His fullness as a group of believers. If you have not done so already, will you come together with the other Christians in the area where you live and trust the Spirit to build the church, so that there will be a witness of the oneness of Christ's body where you live? Christ is now calling out a people to be called by His name. God has not chosen only individuals to reveal His glory, but a many-membered body. In the words of Christ: if you will come after Him, now take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Him.
Jesus says in John 6:55-58, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven, not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." As we partake of Christ, we shall find that the divine working of the Spirit of God gives us life which is found in His word. The life that was manifested in Christ is now being brought not only to the individual, but to the corporate life of the local church, the expression of Christ, for the outworking of the ministry of the body and to fulfill God's purpose for this hour.
One thing that can bring confusion to believers who start to move in God's plan is to think we must erect a building to house the church. God is not concerned with physical buildings; He is interested in the building He is doing in individuals as He brings them together to give expression to His love. It would be to the benefit of any local expression of the body of Christ not to be taken up with buildings, but to begin by gathering in a home, letting God work in them a divine work of grace and love, and building Christ in them. We can too easily become dependent upon four walls, rather than relying upon the ability of God, the grace of God, and the revelation of God by the Spirit. Buildings can be a pitfall in the life of any local church. We must be very careful to let God lead us, fulfilling His purpose by the Spirit and enabling us to see the pitfalls man has fallen into in the past.
Our fellowship is solely in Christ, and the New Testament church is the only pattern God has set forth in His Word. God's moving today is in the life of Christ, and life is not found in doctrinal statements. Only as we move in the divine life of Christ will the ultimate fulfillment of God's purpose be manifested. We are not conforming ourselves to His image, but God's grace is doing this as we partake of His Word. His grace and love are sufficient to do His divine work, if we will be obedient to His Word. We must receive His Word into hearts of faith and let God work through us. We must come to the end of ourselves and into full dependence and reliance on Christ who is our life. Anything short of this can cause us to miss the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus. Only those who do the will of God will enter into heaven (Matthew 7:21). If we look to others, we will fail to draw from Him our needed grace, strength, and faith. We will then start to draw on doctrines and our own understanding, which can only produce death.
The body of Christ is perfect, according to God's pattern. God does not have two plans; there is only one, and He will not make another. This cannot be a natural thing; it must be a spiritual creation. For the divine plan of God to be revealed now, we must let God by the Spirit build the members into a divine habitation for Himself. If this can be settled in our hearts, it will help to bring the unity of the Spirit in the fulfillment of God's plan, the body of Christ in any local area. The church is active. It is moving in the Spirit, not bound by man's precepts or by four walls. It is an expanding organism moving to fulfill the purpose of God in any local area, to express Christ and to reach out and do the work of ministry. But we must never let the work take the place of the life. It is the life of God in His church that will bring forth the work which members are called to do by the leading of the Spirit.
The Lord has said in John 6:63 that "the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life." We trust that the words spoken here may be spirit and life to each heart, and that you might go on to let God make you a part of the church in your local area. As you gather together, allowing Christ to control the expression of corporate life in His church, He will bring a fullness of expression in the area where you live, and you, as part of His church, will fulfill His purpose.