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?