My parents bought bicycles for me and my brother for our tenth birthdays. My brother is 10 months older than me, so he got his–a brand new red one–first.
When my birthday arrived, my expectations were high. I can still remember my disappointment when instead of a new bike, I receive a used Schwinn. It wasn’t fair.
When Jesus appeared to His disciples for the third time after His resurrection Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him more than the other disciples. Peter said he did. Jesus then told Peter that when he was old he would be taken into custody and put to death. Peter then looked around and saw the disciple, John, and asked Jesus if John would get the same fate. Jesus responded, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” John 21:18;22.
Peter ended up crucified in Rome by Emperor Nero; John lived to be very old and died of natural causes. Jesus did not treat Peter fairly. If He had, Peter would have been allowed to die of old age like John. Life is not fair. But even more importantly for Christians is that Jesus is not fair.
To demand fairness from God is to operate on two wrong assumptions: 1) that you are the center of the universe and 2) that you don’t share common ground with others. Here’s what I mean.
First, if your happiness is of primary importance in the Kingdom, then you should not be treated less favorably by King Jesus than any other person. If John didn’t have to experience crucifixion, Peter should not have had to either. But there was something more important at play than Peter’s happiness, namely King Jesus, His Kingdom, and His purposes. John understood, and I suspect Peter did too. In fact, John noted Jesus said what He did to Peter, “signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” John 21:19.
Second, we all share common ground, meaning we are all trapped in time on the same planet. As a result, if my neighbor is walking downhill in one direction, I am forced to walk uphill in the opposite direction. Someone needed to go to Rome and glorify Jesus through martyrdom, and someone needed to receive a revelation about the future and write a book about it, and same person could not be in two places at the same time
I’ve never asked my parents, but I suspect the reason I did not get a new bicycle for my tenth birthday is because money was tight at the time, and my parents had to make a decision that was best for the family, which was more important than me being treated fairly. As an adult, I get that.
As citizens of the kingdom of God we should get it as well. GS