Question:

I have a couple of Catholic friends that I have tried for some time now to convert to Christianity. They have refused to be my friends, and shunned the truth of the Word of God. I am 14 years of age but have been a Christian for three years. I need help with the issue of these friends of mine. I went searching for reasons that the Catholic church contradicts the Bible and in some cases, itself, so that they could realize why their current religion was not allowing them to be properly saved.

I found many sites, stories, and books that I could have used, but the La Vista Church of Christ web page on Catholicism and Christianitywas the best at explaining to me the differences and evolution of the Catholic Church. I attend a church of Christ and will be speaking to my preacher and his once Catholic wife about how to get my friends to open their eyes to the truth.

If you have any ideas on what I could say to them, or do to them to help them realize the way they live that would be great. They claim to not be lost, and to be saved. They have also wrongly accused me of calling myself Jesus and said that they should go to hell.

Also keep me in your prayers that I might stay strong in this difficult situation, it is very hard for me to get through this time of struggle, as the devil has tested me through my own friends. I am being persecuted and am doing my best to come out with two more souls saved.


Answer:

It is easy to get caught up in the short-term battle and lose the long-term war. I remember the frustration I had in my youth trying to talk to friends about the Scriptures. I knew even back then that I wanted to preach, but I often wondered if I could since no one I talked to responded. It wasn't until decades later that I began having old acquaintances contact me just to say thank you for being a big influence in their lives. I might not have convinced them right then, but the example I left by living a Christian life in a consistent manner stuck with several.

Teach as the opportunity presents itself. In other words, look for good chances to bring the Scriptures into the current conversation. You might have a friend mention that he went out drinking last night. Here is a good time to ask whether such is approved by his religion. If he says no, then ask why he chooses to do what he knows is wrong. If he says yes, then ask how they justify it. This allows a two-way conversation to occur. Often a direct attack on a wrong belief just makes a person dig in his heels and defend himself to the death. But talking about the reasons behind beliefs leaves the door open.

When you do teach, avoid presenting things with "I think" or "I believe;" instead, bring up a verse that shows what God says. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11). It will keep you accurate and it will help your friends greatly. Few people, Catholics or not, really understand their Bibles. Sure, you will get teased about being a walking Bible, but I can't think of a better compliment. If your friends disagree, they will find themselves disagreeing with God.

We have a couple here who came out of Catholicism. The pivotal moment was when the preacher pointed out that most of the saints in Roman Catholicism were not in the Bible. The woman's favorite saint was Veronica, who supposedly gave Jesus a cloth to wipe his face on the way to his crucifixion. She and her husband set out to prove the preacher wrong and after literally reading through all four gospels, realized that the preacher was right and that she had been lied to all these years. The point is that you can't make a person become a Christian but you can give them reasons to want to be a Christian and not a Catholic. The person has to see the need, and that might take time.

Strangely, you don't need to directly attack a person's church. Few people hold to the teachings of their particular denomination. Instead, look at what a person does or says and help them learn to go to God for their answers. A person who does so won't last long in a denomination because they will soon find too many inconsistencies.

Thank you for your advice and help, I will definitely be speaking to my preacher to further address this situation. Your words will not be forgotten. They are very wise and insightful, and I will not speak to my friends without first taking into deep thought the things you have said.

It is very encouraging to hear stories that are not unlike mine, and to be able to know that there are others that have gone through the same struggles as me. I will remember that it takes time to convert people, and that I cannot force them to change.

I will also remember that I should not directly attack them with telling them that they are wrong. Your words will not go unlooked. Thank you very much.

I hope things work out well for you.