A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. — C.S. Lewis
God loves people as they are, but he does not want them to stay as they are. As we pursue growth in virtues such as hope, love, humility, and kindness, we discover that we fall short and need God’s grace to transform our character. We pursue virtue not to impress God or declare ourselves good, but in response to his grace to us. Grace leads to us to repentance, which is turning away from everything that does not reflect God’s character and toward everything that does.
Jesus underscored human worth by welcoming the sinners and outcasts of his day (Mark 2:15-17). Christians find a deep significance in being created, loved, and forgiven by God. The Holy Spirit confirms our awareness of relationship to God and gives us freedom to face our sin without having our sense of worth crumble (Romans 5:8-11). Salvation is grace, a gift of God. We cannot earn it, and it does not rely on our achievements. This gift promotes a deep sense of security that allows us to become more open to changing our lives.
The change called for in repentance is not limited to a few moral behaviors; it encompasses the whole of our lives. The Bible talks of the mind being renewed by God and of our bodies being offered in worship (Romans 12:1-2). Repentance includes laying down false beliefs and understandings and considering how we treat others as we work with them.
Laying ourselves open to being challenged and changed by what we learn means making ourselves vulnerable. It means actively asking what something or someone has to say to me and to my community. In the Bible, knowledge is linked to wisdom, which is practical learning for living well in God’s world. The source of wisdom is an all-wise God (1 Kings 3:9) who challenges us to change, not only intellectually, but also in the way we live our lives. When we are open to change, God helps us to turn away from wrong choices and patterns and toward God’s intentions for us. This is the definition of repentance.
Pedagogically this means learning about faith and science should not be just about presenting students with information, but also about challenging them to respond. Teaching FASTly leads to moments when we have to reevaluate what we have believed, how we have viewed and treated others, and the choices we have made with our resources. We need the capacity to admit when we are wrong and open ourselves to growth and change. But a classroom culture focused on pressure to be perfect generates fear, fear makes vulnerability difficult, and may replace growth with conformity.
As you explore the FASTly activities, look for places where students are called upon to change and grow. Reflect upon the nature of the change that is needed. Consider how the possibility of change is supported through the way the activity is taught and through the culture created in the classroom. The following activities are worthwhile examples and helpful starting places for your consideration and use:
Collaborating and Model Building