Opting for peace does not mean a passive acquiescence to evil or compromise of principle. It demands an active struggle against hatred, oppression and disunity, but not by using methods of violence. Building peace requires creative and courageous action. — Karol Wojtyła
Jesus’s life and teaching embodied God’s peace, his shalom, which implies wholeness and just relationships, not simply a lack of conflict. Biblical peace comprises harmony in relationships, minds, bodies, and in the wider world. It is a positive peace in which people flourish. The experience of the peace of God is a foretaste of his peace to come (John 14:27). Having peace does not mean that life will be easy—sometimes we must disturb an unjust false peace to create a just and true one. Because we have received peace from God, we are called to live in peace as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18). Jesus told his followers to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16), and he pronounced a blessing on peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
In a world in which there is evil, peace and forgiveness are intricately related. The Bible says God is slow to anger but quick to forgive because forgiveness is central to his character (Micah 7:18). For Christians, forgiveness is a response to being forgiven by God and living in peace with God. Jesus modeled this by forgiving his enemies (Luke 23:34). Asking God for forgiveness for ourselves necessarily includes forgiving others (Matthew 6:14-15; Colossians 3:13). Forgiveness is not just a feeling; it is an act of the will.
Forgiveness means ceasing to carry resentment toward an enemy, and mercy means ceasing to demand full punishment. Forgiveness, however, does not mean evil is allowed to continue; justice is also central to the character of God, and making amends needs to happen. Forgiveness is often the first step toward reconciliation in a broken relationship. Even if reconciliation does not follow, Jesus calls us to love, not hate, our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44).
Peace and forgiveness are core Christian priorities and must be embedded in a Christian approach to faith and science. Because questions of faith and science touch the heart of who we are and what we trust, disagreements can generate fear and anger that may be expressed in unkind speech and behavior toward those who do not share our convictions. Such responses can also prevent learners from being at peace in themselves or with their communities. Responses rooted in fear and anger stand in contrast to Christ’s call to be peacemakers, to love our enemies, and to forgive as we have been forgiven. Teaching FASTly is not just about finding right answers to faith and science questions, but also about whether our teaching embodies God’s peace and leads students to approach the faith/science debate with compassion for others.
As you explore the FASTly activities, look for instances in which there is a focus on peace and forgiveness, and consider how that focus has been woven into the teaching strategies. The following activities offer examples for being a peacemaker in and out of the classroom: