One of the most beautiful images of the church seen in Ephesians and other NT epistles is that of a loving family, over which God is Father. Whenever this particular image is used, the emphasis of the passage is on the quality of relationships which are to exist within the Christian community.
The family into which a child is born is intended by God to provide a context in which he or she can mature. Thus the family has always been recognized as critical in the growth and development of persons. In the same way, a person who is born again is intended by God to have a place in God’s extended family, the church. Loved and supported by others who really care, the individual matures in Christian faith.
When we see the church as people rather than an institution, we can begin to sense the importance of belonging. And we can grasp the vital necessity of building close and warm relationship with other believers. For healthy spiritual growth requires a rooting and establishment in love, spoken in Ephesians 3, which enables us to experience “together with all the saints” Christ’s incomprehensible love. Christ’s love, the greatest of all stimulants to growth, is communicated as Jesus loves us through one another.