We cannot be perfect apart from others. The Bible links perfection with human relationships. Christ urges us to be as perfect as our Father in heaven and ties the process to how we treat each other. The Kingdom of God is about eternal, peaceful relationships. We cannot withdraw from people and still develop the necessary relationship skills, just as God never leaves us but continues to work with us. Life would be easier for Him if He ignored us, but He works on, helping us develop our relationships with Him. He is the One who works perfection in us.
Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Going On to Perfection
Salvation can easily and accurately be described as "being at one with God." As long as we are separated from God, we do not have salvation. When we are "at one" with God, it means that we are becoming like Him, that we are walking along the same path with Him and will be saved.
Jesus Christ's death bridges this impossible situation for us. We can then begin to contribute to being at one with God. What remains yet undone, despite the gap being bridged, is a change in character and in attitude that must be worked in us in order for us to become like God. It takes living God's way for us to become like God. This is why humility is necessary.
We can see from Jesus' prayer and from our own experience (and from the history of man) that mankind is not at one with God, yet that is God's aim. Satan motivated Adam and Eve, and subsequently all the rest of mankind, to separate themselves from God. As long as Satan can keep us separated from Him, salvation is impossible. Satan's thinking, which was passed on to Adam and Eve and then to us, is that we all have the right to set our own standards or codes of right and wrong. He has convinced mankind that they have the same prerogatives and that these Satan-inspired, man-made standards can produce abundant prosperity, good health, peace, and a sense of well-being in our lives.
But they do not, and that is the problem! Humbling oneself means giving up that devilish notion and submitting to what God says. He has given us free moral agency to choose whether to obey His standards and codes, not the freedom to set our own.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility
We are reading their word right now, that is, the word that the apostles wrote. Jesus' prayer, then, is that those of us who now believe through the writings of the apostles may be one with the Father and the Son, and that oneness may come through the reading of the word that they wrote.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim
It is a measure of how important "being one" with the Father and Son is that, in this most important prayer delivered on the last night of Jesus' life, Jesus requested of the Father that we be "one with them" four times! In that sense, it is the most important request in this prayer that we become one with them.
Will a human being sacrifice for a good and moral purpose? Yes, we will if we believe God, and believe that He loves us. That last element is not easy, as it takes a lot of experience with Him to know that He loves us, and that He loves us every bit as much as He loves Jesus Christ. Notice what verse 23 says: "You . . . have loved them as You have loved Me." As means "equal to"! We have no trouble believing that God exists, but we have a great deal of trouble believing that God loves us. Yet, it is necessary for becoming one with Him, and returning that love back to Him. Human beings will sacrifice if they can get a good handle on their lives, believing God, and believing that He loves them.
Becoming one with the Father and the Son is accomplished through a number of factors, but none is more important for us right now than beginning to live as they live in preparation for being with them. No other way of life is acceptable to them, because no other way of life is in harmony with the way that they live.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 17:20: