Dear 25 year old Aaron Brewer,
You're fresh out of Bible college, have some seminary under your belt and have started working part-time at a local church. You have been married 3 years, experienced 2 miscarriages, and are about to have your first child. By the way, she's beautiful, smart and healthy (though she will give you a scare with heart issues after birth that God will miraculously heal).
Why am I writing you from the future? I just want to brace you, encourage you and help others who struggle with changes in their faith journey like you soon will.
Aaron, you've finally got it all figured out. You know how to read and understand the Bible the proper way, you have learned how to systematically get closer to God, and your theological perspective shows you the way God intended life to look and how the world should really function. There's just this one thing I need to brace you for...
There are people who God deeply loves who love Him deeply and walk in closer, more genuine relationship with Him than you. The problem? Their relationship with God is outside of your understanding of Scripture, your systematic approach, and your theological perspective. You are going to write them off, say they are abominable and leading people away from Jesus, and send them to hell in a handbasket.
I just want to ask you a question: Are you responding out of fear or love? And remember, I already know the answer! You know the Bible really well: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7)," "Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)," and I won't even mention the prior verses that say "If you don't love you don't know God, because God is love." You can live from fear or live from love, but not both. You're often responding out of fear, because you have a handle on what you think is right, and you really believe it's your job to uphold the standard of your theological understanding for everyone else to follow.
Although you're really genuine, Aaron, please know you are creating a wake of spiritual bodies in your path that are now hurt, distanced, and confused - all from your zeal in the name of God. I'd hyperbolically liken it to what Saul was doing to Christians before he met Jesus and became Paul: genuine, but harmful. Don't forget that these are real humans created in the very image of God; and there's nothing they can do to change that His image is expressed through them, even the ones you label abominable, because they're part of a beautiful humanity.
Aaron, no one has a corner on God. You're going to learn that He's so much bigger than any grace, truth, or love you could ever imagine. And when you think you've figured something else out about Him, a whole other world of who He is opens up to you and He becomes that much bigger. Every time God gets bigger to you, life gets so much more full. What's so interesting about this aspect of your journey is that the bigger God gets, the more personal He gets, and the more diverse humanity becomes around your table.
When you eventually learn to love people a little more like God loves people, life gets easier and you don't always have to be right, which ends up taking so much stress off of your relationship with God and others. This doesn't happen in your life for a few years, but I wish you could see this right now. It would save you so much frustration, time, and energy and give you a brighter smile, a sounder sleep, and a bigger heart.
As you begin to journey with God and your faith begins to look different in the coming years, you're going to feel things in your soul that are Spirit-directives for your purpose. Take hold of them, own them, and do them with fierce and fast passion. God is on your side, and He gave you Andrea to keep you focused and safe. Support her, fight for her and cheer on her dreams, because they are essential to your life's calling together. You've started a journey together with God that right now I'm just in the beginning stages of as I'm writing to you. All I know is that everything and anything is possible when God is the source of it, so we're just sprinting with Him and seeing where He takes us. But there are thousands of people joining you along the way, and they are counting on your journey for theirs.
I want you to know that you're not a bad person at 25 and you really do love God. Find rest in knowing that He loves you and lives in you; because Christ is in you, you are enough. Stop striving and start living. To quote your favorite preacher, Steven Furtick, "Enjoy the journey, because the destination is a mirage."
Love you much,
PS - This is going to get under your skin, but just FYI: I used male pronouns to describe God, because that's all you would accept at this point in your life; but know that I could have just as easily used female pronouns and still have been just as accurate. :-)