I believe that disciples are made not born for Jesus constantly laid down the requirements for those who would follow him. In all the gospels there are a number of conditions that each person had to fulfil which required a decision on the part of the would be follower. In the parallel passage in Luke 14 Jesus clearly says that before we commit to becoming a disciple we must first count the cost using the illustration that no one begins to build a house without first counting the cost.
In being born again God works a supernatural sovereign re-birth in our hearts as the life of Christ is birthed into our heart. We are regenerated in an instant and become a new creation, for it is by grace, not works that we are saved. We are then exhorted in scripture to work out the life that God has, in that moment of time, worked into our spirit.
I see in the scripture three disciplines that are foundation stones of being a disciple that we must develop by forming habits by surrender to the life birthed in us by the Holy Spirit.
1/ Dying to everything that we hold of value.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.
The story of Moses illustrates this foundation stone. Moses was raised in the best schools of his time and trained under the most advanced curriculum available to produce the best leaders in Egypt. This future leader, full of learning, confidence and self-importance was forced as God engineered his circumstances to forty years in the wilderness. In this environment God had to retrain him as Moses had to let go of everything that he had been taught and valued. Along with his father-in-law and the harshness of the land Moses was stripped of his self until he trusted in no one but God. This self-denial was illustrated when finally God commanded him to become a leader of his people and Moses who once walked the corridors of power in Pharaohs house confesses his inadequacy. “I do not have the ability to speak to Pharaoh.”
2/ The Ability to Wait on God
Be stillbefore the LORD and wait patientlyfor him; do not fretwhen men succeed in their ways,Ps 37
The life of Abraham illustrates this foundation stone. Imagine the shame that was on Abrahams shoulders and the guilt that his wife Sarah bore. To be childless and to have no heir in a society at that time was to been seen as something akin to being a leper. Yet God had promised him a son and despite Abraham taking action himself to produce a son by lying with a servant, God still counts him as one of the heroes of faith. Those that wait on the Lord will walk and not faint. So often we run ahead of Gods plans for us. But this waiting is not a sitting down and doing nothing for it must be like the farmer who waits for the harvest of his crops. He hopes with expectation that the crops will be plentiful as he tends to the young plantings. God says 'walk before me looking unto me and I will direct your paths.' There are not three stages in walking before God – worship, wait and work. God's idea is that all three should go together. We must stop jumping like spiritual frogs.
3/ Developing a holy fear of God – Obedience.
And this is love:that we walk in obedience to his commands. 2 John
The life of Noah illustrates this foundation stone for it is said of him that in 'holy fear' he build an ark. Can you imagine the ridicule and scorn that was heaped on Noah? Not only was the fool building an ark miles away from any large body of water, but he was speaking of a judgement. As time went on and the world continued in marrying, partying and sinning Noah must have felt the cold doubts gnawing at him. And then to gather up the animals must have tortured his soul as more scorn was thrown at him, but in 'holy fear' in hung in there, knowing that to obey was much more pleasant than carrying on as a 'religious person' and to face the displeasure of a holy God. When we are under the command of God the temptation is to revert to type and perform 'religious acts' trusting that God would understand.
God is looking for his sons and daughters to be of use to him, but until he has formed the mind of Christ in us and we are presenting our bodies as living sacrifices we cannot be used as witnesses unto him. So concerned is God that we walk before him as Christ's disciples that he will engineer our circumstances to bring us unto glory as we form the habits of Christ. We may find ourselves in a dark place. We may have to walk in a desert place. Or swim through raging seas.
As in the natural habits are at first difficult to master so to with forming spiritual habits but as we surrender to the life born within us and with the power of the Holy Spirit we will become to have the same mind that Jesus demonstrated when he walked this earth. Then we will be used of God as broken bread and poured out wine to feed and nourish others at the Lords discretion.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightenedin order that you may know the hope to which he has calledyou, the richesof his glorious inheritancein the saints, Eph