Where is the place of the church, as opposed to the individual, as the Bride of Christ?
The Bride of Christ is definitely a body as a whole, but you cannot have a body unless it is made up of individuals. You can’t take a bunch of fish and put them together and make a body, a body is made up of individual bodies, to corporately become a whole. Would Jesus rather come back for a corporate body made up of slaves, children, servants, friends, and workers, or would he rather come for a Bride made up of individual brides who love Him passionately? In Revelation 22:17 we get that answer, when it says, “The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!” The Greek word for “say” can be translated “call.” Jesus is coming back when his bride is so passionate about Him that she is crying out for His return.
Therefore, while we are all part of one corporate, passionate Bride who can’t wait to be with her Bridegroom, that corporate Bride is made up of individual brides. That doesn’t exclude the importance of the church (body, Bride), but our focus, whether we’re alone or in a body, is to be on Jesus. We are individual Christians who are supposed to have a personal (individual) relationship with God. First there are Christians, then there is a body, you can’t start with a body made up of nothing to which you then start adding individuals. No individual brides, no corporate Bride.
For example, Congress is a good analogy. Congress is an entity that makes laws and tends to the business of the government of the United States. When we refer to Congress we are referring to it as a whole and to what it does as a whole, just as we refer to the Bride as a whole entity in that context. When we refer to Congress we are not referring to any of the individuals who make up Congress, we are referring to the entity. But, can you have Congress without any individuals? Does it matter who is in that body? Yes, it must be made up of people who care about the United States, who are educated and who understand the processes. Can we have a Congress that is made up of beggars, convicts, derelicts, children, uneducated people, foreigners, or youth who are at that stage where the world revolves around them? No. We must have a body of people who understand the purpose of Congress, who are educated in the things that Congress controls, who want the best for the United States, and who have lived here long enough to understand what the United States stands for. So, while we refer to Congress and what it does as an entity in itself, it is very important who the individuals are and their interest in the US, as they are also “Congress.”
I see Matthew 6:6 as showing that our intimacy with God is personal. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)
If it was all about the corporate Bride we’d be told the opposite, to pray loudly in public, to let everyone know when we fast and suffer for Jesus, and to announce to everyone when we do anything for God. Yet he tells us the opposite, that relationship is about being in the secret place with Him.