«The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy» (Proverbs 14:10).
A high level of secularism is found in different parts of the world. However, in some European regions there is an element that is truly enlightening: resentment toward religion. It seems as if people harbored peculiar hard feelings toward spiritual things. Likewise, they give the impression that they’re not willing to do anything for religious reasons. And the fact is that Europe has a painful past with struggles of this kind. So today important sections of society view any religious topic with a certain suspicion and annoyance. They perceive that the (Catholic) church hasn’t defended the people, but rather, up to a certain extent, has been its enemy.
The truth is that when you are forced to live a religion in a radical way, without respecting your individuality or your points of view, in addition to forcing you to fight and give your life for causes you don’t understand, threatened with divine wrath or eternal doom, in the long run the result is predictable: resentment.
Have you ever felt resentment toward the church? Do you harbor hard feelings toward some ministers or leaders in your congregation? Maybe one of your relatives has tried to impose doctrines or Christian standards on you in a harsh way without realizing they were invading your freedom. Yes, it might have happened. And its not pleasant to admit it. Jesus Himself warned that religious zeal can sometimes overrun the rights of human beings: «They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service» (John 16:2).
History has shown that it’s not the norms that hurt believers, especially young people, but rather the way in which they are applied. Personally, I’m a friend of several young people who no longer attend church. They’ve left for various reasons, the majority full of resentment. When listening to them, I’ve seen the same pattern in their spiritual experience. The problem is that, when turning their backs on Christian principles, they’ve made drastic decisions that have dragged their lives through very complex situations. And nothing is the same afterward.
We have to learn from mistakes made in the past. Church norms can be followed without humiliating those who transgress them, always emphasizing God’s love and His invitation to repent.