In the beginning God created all things. He created the material world and declared it to be good. God then created man and woman in His own image and declared them to be very good. Mankind was given a unique task among all of creation as God’s vice-regents. The crowning jewel of his creation, they were tasked with the responsibility to represent God’s rule on the earth.
God did not create man and woman and then leave them. Instead, God created man and woman to be in perfect relationship with Him, with each other, and with their surroundings. God created a perfect kingdom in Eden where God’s people lived under God’s rule and blessing in God’s perfect place. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve were not satisfied to enjoy all of God’s blessings. They wanted more than God offered; they wanted to be like God.
The decision to eat from the forbidden tree led to Adam and Eve’s banishment from Eden, but it led to more than that. In addition to being kicked out of God’s perfect place, Adam and Eve now lived in fractured relationships. Once at peace with one another without disgrace, after the fall they were ashamed to be seen by the other. Their relationship with God was also fractured. They no longer enjoyed perfect relationship with God; their sin separated them from God. In spite of their sin, God was not finished with humanity, he promised in Genesis 3 that he would repair the damage they caused. God himself would send a savior.
Christ is the answer to the sin of Adam and Eve. Christ arrived to set all things right. He came to restore humans to right relationships with one-another, to right relationships with their Heavenly Father and to return humans to God’s place. He came to reintroduce the Kingdom of God. The church is God’s place for God’s people to live under God’s rule and blessing. The church (body, not building) is God’s plan to overcome the sin and rebellion of people and to restore them to their intended created order, as God’s people, in God’s place, under his rule and blessing.
Just as God had created a very good place for his people to live in secure and fulfilling relationship with him and each other, so too, the church is God’s very good creation to restore the world to Himself. God sent Jesus to reconcile sinners, and Jesus created the church as the vehicle through which his message would be carried. The church is the community that represents God’s rule and reign to the world. The church is the closest thing to heaven on earth in our sin-stained world.
The church is far from perfect, but her imperfections are not the result of God, but rather the result of the sin within her members. Through the church, broken sinners are made whole, and hurting people are healed. Sinners are called to repentance, and imperfect people are being perfected into the image of Christ as the gospel works itself out among God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit. You need the church. It may seem at times as though the church is just an add-on to the Christian life, but the reality is that biblical Christianity revolves around the church.
“A personal relationship with Jesus” is important. It is important to affirm the necessity of a personal conversion experience for salvation. However, “a personal relationship” with Jesus is only part of the Christian life. As one book explains,
“God’s design is for believers to be deeply connected in community with other followers of Christ. If not carefully explained, this phrase could give the impression that the Christian faith is private—‘just between you and God.’ For while our faith is indeed personal, it is not private. Private Christian faith is an oxymoron, like ‘white chocolate,’ ‘jumbo shrimp,’ and ‘ACC football.’”
We must work to recover a biblical understanding of the church–one that views the church as essential to the Christian faith and as God’s plan for redeeming the world. The church is not optional, it is essential for the success of the gospel in our world.
 Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger, Creature of the Word, 45.