If we do not understand the basics of things, there is no way that we will be able to understand the more in-depth ideas and concepts.
Point #1:You will not understand the Church unless you understand Jesus.
People in general don’t convert to Christianity because of the teachings and philosophies of Christianity. They convert because they have an encounter with Jesus. Often times this is because of the example of Christians. Other times this is from an encounter with Jesus in their hearts, in prayer, in the scriptures, in the sacraments. Either way, there will never be another person like Jesus, and He has captivated billions.
However someone comes to encounter Jesus, that encounter moves them to more fully integrate themselves with Jesus, with the Church that He founded: which is the Body of Christ. The teachings of the Church and beliefs of Christians are silly if you take them without Jesus. So of course the world is confused and thinks that Christians are terribly mistaken! How could they understand the more complicated issues without knowing Jesus? Authority comes from God, from Jesus, and He gave that authority to the Church (Matthew 16:18-19).
So as important as it is to focus on Jesus first, we can’t just forget about the Church that He founded, as Pope Benedict reminds us:
“. . . the Twelve Apostles are the most evident sign of Jesus’ will regarding the existence and mission of his Church, the guarantee that between Christ and the Church there is no opposition: despite the sins of the people who make up the Church, they are inseparable. Therefore, a slogan that was popular some years back, ‘Jesus yes, Church no,’ is totally inconceivable with the intention of Christ. This individualistically chosen Jesus is an imaginary Jesus.”
I’d like to clarify that the Church is essential for the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus to the world. That’s the mission that Jesus gave His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and it is the main mission of the Church still. How else would we come to know of Jesus without the Church proclaiming Jesus, keeping His teachings intact, sharing the scriptures? So basically we need the Church to do the proclaiming, but we need to know Jesus before we can know the Church. It all goes hand in hand.
Tangent paragraph: One thing to keep in mind is that some people live the Christian life without truly knowing and following Jesus. Often times, they are influenced by a friend or family member in situations like this. In this situation, it seems pretty clear they aren’t truly living as disciples of Jesus yet, because Jesus called us not to a religion of convenience but a religion of service and obedience. So we must be wary of that and strive to share the person and message of Jesus, which is lasting faith, hope, and love, and not just fun and friendship (not that there’s anything wrong with that). These situations are not bad, but they are something to keep in mind so that we do not assume that everyone knows Jesus when they actually don’t, even if they act like they do.
Point #2: Christians aught to follow Jesus, not political parties. America is about to get crazy political for the next few months, so this is something that many people will encounter soon enough.
Which of the political parties were founded by God? Which of the political parties are correct on every single issue? None, neither, I doubt there was a single one in the history of the world that fully encompassed what Jesus taught. That should be kind of obvious, though. Jesus didn’t found a nation, a political party, or an economic system. He did found a Church, though! And He sure as heck endorsed a morality and a way of living. So we would be fools to follow everything that the Democrats or Republicans or any other party says for no other reason than that’s the party that we are registered with. Instead, we must balance all decisions in the light of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Church can help us to do this without telling us who to vote for, too. They don’t endorse politicians, but you can get a solid take on the issues from the bishops, especially the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
So before you jump on board on a side of an issue, weigh it in the light of what Jesus said. Go straight to the source, without all the bias. Because you know what? I bet the devil LOVES that there’s so much spin on every topic nowadays and how there are two imperfect groups fighting for the “soul” of our country, making people forget where real truth and wisdom can be found.