I met with a non-Catholic Christian friend this morning and one key thing that came out of the conversation was to TELL THE STORY. As Christians, we are called to tell the story of Jesus.
We cannot say, "YES, to GOD" for anyone that we share the story of Christ with. The Holy Spirit has to move the person toward that Yes. We cannot brow beat someone with a Bible by quoting 101 Bible verses expecting to force them into a YES.
One thing that we didn't get into was how to share the story. The simplest form that I can think of is John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Saying Yes to God in it's simplest form means believing John 3:16 and turning away from sin ( repentance ) and turning ( believing ) toward Christ as the first key step. But it doesn't stop there.
My friend did make a good point that once someone says Yes to God that the next logical step is to WALK WITH THEM. That ties into Matthew 28:19 "... go and make disciples ..." That simple advice is far better than saying congrats, here's a KJV Bible, now go find a good Church and best of luck to you and yours.
What I shared above is a streamlined version that works whether someone is a Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc. telling the short version of John 3:16 and someone turning from sin and turning to Christ should be something we can all agree on as Catholic Christians and non-Catholic Christians.
Two key paragraphs that I know the numbers of from the 2,865 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are #432 and #1989.
#432 The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
#1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.
What my friend and I didn't get into are the differences in walking with them from a Baptist ( my friend ) perspective and a Catholic ( me ) perspective. There may be things about #432 and #1989 above that my friend and other non-Catholic Christians don't agree with, but I think those 2 of 2,865 paragraphs are fairly common ground based on my prior 40+ year protestant background which is one reason that I know the numbers: COMMON GROUND.
Rather than my friend and I getting into disagreements about theology and which of the 2,865 paragraphs of the Catechism he disagrees with and what the walking with them would look like, my friend and I both seem to believe the most important part for Christians to do is lead people to Christ: COMMON GROUND!
Don't get me wrong. I love being a Catholic Christian and I would love to see everyone embrace Catholicism. In addition, I'd like to see former Catholics come back to the Catholic Church and those who are thinking about leaving to remain Catholic. However, my key point in this article is for ALL Christians to find common ground and lead people to Christ. Let me repeat that loudly, FOR ALL CHRISTIANS TO FIND COMMON GROUND AND LEAD PEOPLE TO CHRIST. If my friend and I spent all of our time arguing theology and trying to sway each other to become Baptist or Catholic, how is that helping the truly lost who need to hear John 3:16?
I'm a Catholic Christian and my friend is a Baptist Christian, but we are both CHRISTIANS commanded by Christ to tell the story.
Sure, the story goes deeper than John 3:16. If you are a faithful Christian, you likely know the deeper version of Christ being born of a virgin, having a ministry, performing miracles, making disciples, shedding His blood on the Cross at Calvary for the sins of the world, His resurrection and His ascension to heaven. You may even know key verses to quote and have a plan all laid out. However, you can always lead the conversation with John 3:16.
Would my friend likely invite someone to the local Church ( Baptist ) that he attends after sharing the story? Yes. Would I likely invite someone to the local Church ( Catholic ) that I attend? Yes. That is only logical. Again, walking with them will look different as a Baptist and a Catholic.
Remember, you don't have to have all the answers to tell the story of Christ. If someone asks questions that you cannot answer, you should either tell them you'll get back to them ( and do ) or pull in another brother or sister in Christ who may be able to help.
Let your light so shine before men in your words and your actions.
If you feel lead to learn more about the Catholic faith, please feel free to contact me.