The loss of our heroes


It seems that the hardest problem for people to face when they leave the UPC is the one of figuring out what they believe and who they can trust. I know it’s an issue that I faced, and from the forums that I have participated in and the discussions that I have been a part of I know that others have faced it well.

Today I was thinking about this and it struck me that if a person was raised in the UPC (as I was) then their greatest heroes are generally people in the UPC. My heroes were certain preachers who I saw as being full of wisdom and compassion, godliness and grace, mercy and anointing. These were the men that I aspired to be like more than anything else in the world. I wanted to have the tenacity that they had to "hold on to Truth." I wanted to have the anointing that they did and affect people in the same ways that they affected people.

But when I left the UPC I found out that some of my heroes are actually enemies of the gospel. This does not make them bad men–far from it! They are not knowingly enemies of the gospel; they are doing what they are convinced is right. But yet I see that every time they "win a soul" to the UPC they are doing just that–winning a soul to the UPC (which is a far cry from winning a soul to the gospel).

Some might think I’m being melodramatic, but I do not think that it’s possible to overestimate the importance of heroes in our lives. We all have them, and we all need them. But where do we go when our heroes are stripped away?

I think that the best place we can go is to Jesus. We can let Him become our hero. And how do we do this? By focusing on His life, His character, and His ministry. After all, isn’t our goal to be "just like Jesus"?

I think that the best thing a person can do when leaving the UPC is to pick up a Bible (one that’s not the KJV) and read through one or two of the gospels. Then read through some of the epistles (especially James, 1st and 2nd Peter, and Galatians) with the goal of applying it, not just understanding it.

When we leave the UPC we seek so much to understand. We want to understand doctrine and to find out exactly what we believe. But in the last year I have found out that if a person seeks to just know Christ then understanding will come. This isn’t to say that a person should throw head knowledge out the window of course! There’s nothing wrong with seeking to understand the Bible. But let your main focus be Christ. After all, isn’t it He who shed His blood to redeem us and who rose again so that we might be free?

5 thoughts on “The loss of our heroes

  1. Wade

    Now that I no longer am in the UPC I hold no hard feelings for my brothers and sisters who remain in the UPC. I still love them. I pray for them as I do any of my other friends to walk closely to Jesus.

    My story with the UPC began long before my birth. My great-grandfather, most of his sons and my grandfather were all UPC preachers. (Were I begin to name them, I’m sure most of you would recognize many of their names.) So, I was brought up in the UPC with its traditions and standards. Even as a child, especially as a teen, I couldn’t understand why so much emphasis was put on many things that we could and could not do.

    After High School I went to a UPC Bible College for a year. There was so much emphasis put on the outward appearances and adhering to the church standards. I began to question a lot of the legalism I found in the church. I asked questions about why certain things were taught. I could not find anything in the Bible to support what was being taught & preached. The verses they gave me all seemed to be taken out of context.

    In associating with Christians from other faiths, I came to know that the UPC did not have exclusive rights to the way of salvation. Many of my non-UPC friends were more Christian-like than some of the UPC members I knew. They professed to believe in the same Jesus I did, they lived a spirit filled life and they followed the same Bible I did. Yet, they did so without the long hair, long sleeves, dresses only for the ladies, and the other “standards by which I was taught I must live.

    Now, I live in freedom as I walk in Christ’s footsteps, knowing that I only need to put Him first the way the Bible directs me to do.

  2. CJ

    Hi Josh,
    I am finding your site enlightening and interesting. It is true that no matter where you find people there is opportunity for power. My UPC church shows some small signs of ego and power tripping, but they are very small and certainly not in our Pastor, who shows no sign of allowing his flesh to get the better of him. He is humble, concedes he is a vessel of God and not an authority.

    He teaches the word of God. He and his wife advise members to seek God for answers through prayer, rather than dictation or anyone’s own understanding and dictation. I am sorry for those people of all churches who are dictated to and subjected to power-manipulation and man-made doctrine.

    I have tried a number of churches at various times and found them to be corrupted by power, money or man-made doctrine. I have unsuccessfully tried to follow God without a church. I have never found the word truer than that found in my UPC and cannot live without the fellowship of my spiritual family.

    Having said all that, my flesh questions much and always has. I need to understand something to accept it. Hence your site has been a blessing and I will read more.

    Trust is tricky. I am new and on a steep learning curve. I need to trust the people in my life, however time and time again have had trust betrayed. I now only trust in the Lord and have a burning need to trust in those who, by their works, appear to allow the Lord to work through them. I cannot trust many people of the world. Even most who are closest. Without God I would be very lonely. Your thoughts? Please?

  3. Karen

    What I find in this site are genuine people able to speak about their experiences within the UPC/Oneness group and yet be respectful to the faith as a whole. After all, we are all seeking truth and Jesus in our lives. Those who grow up in a particular denomination are the most lost if that doctrine is all wrong. But my hope is that our God is a just God and will see the heart of a believer and not punish them because they trusted another. Not everyone has the gift of discernment; not everyone questions; many go along without questioning or doubting. And those of us who do question are often viewed as divisive, malcontents and more seriously, not following God.

    What I also appreciate from you Josh is when you speak about ministers/pastors seeking to CONVERT to a doctrine rather than to bring the lost of Christ to be saved and have eternal life. All the rest comes in time.

  4. Bernie Yeater

    My journey in leaving the UPC I found out that I had to change my entire preception of faith, and the role of the minister in my life.

    Indeed stressful, but nessesary. Indeed may ministers either knowingly or by ignorance can be enemies of the gospel and dedication to the organization is not nessesarly dedication to the Lord.

    Understanding now the healthy and biblical role of the minister I was able to proceed to finding a healthy church to worship at. Not to say that there are not healthy UPC churches to worship at, but my particular situation was not healthy.

    In a healthy situation a minister is a fellow brother in the Lord who provides teaching from the Lord and his scripture. His authority comes from the fact that the grace of God is visably demonstrated in his life.

    In a healthy church the minister does not have authority because of his position. He has authority because he has the goods. The minister is also a sinner saved by grace and is accountable to the other members. If I see a minister in sin, I am supposed to go to him privately and confront him, and then with witnesses if I am unsuccessful. Believe it or not, if we do not hold a minister accountable – we are doing him a disservice, and witholding from him an importiant tool withing brotherly fellowship.

    In a unhealthy church/minister situation where the minister is held up unbiblically the minister is unable to demonstrate transparency, and he is unable to get his needs meet. Without this transparency, it provides Satan the opportunity to wreck havoc in the ministers life because he is forced to live a double life. One face for the church, another privately.

    A minister should never be in a position of a financual counselor (should I buy this house…car).

  5. Amy

    That was just excellent. I remember the whole time I attended the UPC services, I would ask the Lord, can’t I just have you?

    Once I learned to hear Him again, I realized He had been saying YES a long time.

    My first revelation came when I picked up the Bible and read the Gospels. Reading a book in one setting changes your whole perspective.

    I was amazed that Jesus was nothing like I though He was. He was wise, loving, and a teacher and altogether God. Even when He knew the disciples must have been doing something wrong when they asked how often they should forgive someone, he gave truth but didn’t lecture on and on about what they may have been doing wrong.

    I think He only rebuked the religious leaders and Peter.

    And that would start a whole new subject….

    Bless you, and keep writing. There’s real life in that Book. Those that Seek HIM still Find HIM.

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