"The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God's new community. For his purpose, conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build his church, that is, to call out of the world a people for his own glory." - John Stott
As redeemed believers, we are now in Christ through faith. In Christ, I am now a child of God, adopted into his family. We are members of the household of God. Being in Christ means being in Christ with others who are in Christ. I belong to God and I belong to my brothers and sisters. I am not autonomous, but a person-in-community. This is my identity. This is our identity.
Jesus came to create a People (not just individuals) who would live under his authority, and therefore demonstrate his workmanship. This is best demonstrated as we love one another, declaring and demonstrating the Gospel to one another and the watching world. We are to be kind to, bear burdens for, forgive, show hospitality to, pray for, encourage, build up, submit to, comfort, exhort, welcome, instruct, and serve one another. We can not demonstrably love one another if we are not in relationship with each other. If we truly believe that our identity is interdependent with each other, we will love the Body as we love ourselves.