Faith Formation and Coherency

I hear the word faith quite often, especially here at church in regards to our religion; but what does faith really mean? According to my dictionary; Faith is something that is believed especially with strong conviction. What a vague definition! I needed to know more, so, like any good researcher I began asking questions; What does faith look like? What do others believe in? What does strong conviction look like? I looked at home, I looked at school, I even looked at gym practice. But I ended up right back where I started; here at Bethel.

So I asked other people what they believed in. Most people said they believed in God, or maybe their church. Some weren’t sure what they believed in.

I asked myself these questions too. What do I believe in? Well yes, I do believe in God, and my church as well; but I also believe in people.

But where have my beliefs come from? How has my faith been formed? Well, the simple answer is that Bethel has helped me discover who I am and what I believe in.

The beginning of my faith journey started when I was baptized here at Bethel. Baptisms are important because they establish a commitment by the family for the child to be raised in the church. They also establish a relationship between the members of the church and the children baptized. This connection automatically gives children like me so many positive role models to look up to and to be inspired by, as I have been time and time again here at this church.

After I got baptized I went to the nursery and to the elementary classes on Sundays. There I got to learn the most basic and fundamental stories from the bible. This portion of my life was like research, it created a sort of foundation of which I would eventually shape my beliefs off of.

When I got older, I pushed hard to establish a teen group. In this group we discuss the deeper meaning behind the stories in the bible and how the lessons may apply to our world today. This was all fantastic because it gave me a specific time and place every week to reflect on what I see happening in the world and how my role models such as my pastor, Sunday school teachers and other congregants reacted to such issues. In a way these reactions taught me how I too should react to both good things and things that aren’t so good. It taught me to look for solutions, and also how to become part of the solution.

These hours upon hours of Sunday School eventually built up to my confirmation. But again, before I went through confirmation I looked up what being confirmed means in the dictionary; it means “the process of formally supporting or accepting a decision”. In this case the decision was being a part of the church, similar to baptism but different in the sense that it was a conscious and educated choice. As I went through the classes prior to my confirmation, as I am sure you have all guessed already, I asked a lot of questions, and I mean a lot. Some of them were answered; however for the most part I was encouraged to find my own answers. I valued these classes because they helped me discover what exactly the church was and how I fit into that picture.

And just where do I fit in this picture? What is my purpose and where can I find meaning? Well, this brings me to coherency, which is, in my opinion, when your actions align with your beliefs. In order to find coherency, I had to define what my beliefs were first. But wait! Flash back to my confirmation in May of 2016- I already had those beliefs all written out in a statement of faith! How wonderful! In that statement I said that “I believe that the Holy Spirit touches everything with the hand of God”. I believe that “Jesus is my role model because he has the tenacity to do the right thing, always”. And I said that “God is my mentor, showing me right from wrong and helping me learn from my mistakes.”

So I took that belief in the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God with me and consulted the bible to try and figure out how to act according to my beliefs. And what do you know; in the book of answers I found an answer! In Micah chapter six verse eight it says that “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good, And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

So if coherency is aligning your actions with your beliefs, all I needed to do was to follow that verse. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. It is challenging to “act justly”, to “love mercy” and to “walk humbly with your god.” That means to be like Jesus; to have the tenacity to always do the right thing, no matter the circumstances. It means to embody the Holy Ghost and love mercy, to forgive and act with as much compassion and grace as possible and it means to accept your own shortcomings and the shortcomings of others knowing that God will love you anways; not in spite of those shortcomings but because of them.

And so with this information I went forth and I tried. I try my very hardest to do these things each and every day; some days I am successful, and some days I am not. And that is okay. God’s love is big, and knowing that gives me the power to keep trying to find coherency; to align my own actions with my beliefs and to live the way in which God, and my church, has taught me. And how is that, you may ask? Well, it is simply livingly abundantly, not in spite of, but because of these uncertain times.

So, I implore you to go forth and do the same; discover what you believe in and chase after that, go forth and act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God; go forth and live abundantly.

-Vivian Knudsen