At The Movies – Creed
Pastor Rosario Picardo
1 Kings 19:19-21
I’m an Italian American. A character I was really drawn to as an Italian American was Rocky. He had one big famous line that everyone still quotes… do you know it? So say it with me… “Hey, Yo Adrian.”
Rocky was an inspirational movie for underdogs and in the span of the past 40 years there has been seven of these movies. I know it seems like a lot more. The movie Creed is like the movie Rocky for this generation.
In Creed, we see the hero Adonis Johnson start off as rebellious and independent with the goal of making a name for himself that is not connected in any way to his father’s famous name, Apollo Creed. In fact, he tries to keep it a secret that he is Apollo Creed’s son.
As the story develops, he fights against anything that threatens his independence, and he refuses to rely in any way on his father’s legacy. Adonis’ individualism would have triumphed and shown that he could succeed without relying on his dad or anyone else. That was definitely what his heart was telling him to do — “do it all on your own.”
But certain events force him to correct his course. He stops following his heart’s desire for total independence, and he begins listening to his head — and to the advice of others. He eventually comes to terms with his father and permits a measure of reliance on his father’s legacy. Adonis was fighting to earn his last name of Creed in his own mind and the mind of others. Adonis had to determine what was worth fighting for. Friends, you and I have to do the same thing.
What’s worth fighting for?
Have you ever picked a fight? I’m serious. If you have a sibling, I’m sure it happened. If you are married, I’m sure you’ve been in a fight with your spouse. There’s a difference between a petty fight that you pick over taking out the trash and doing dishes, and those fights that we are so passionate about that we are willing to go into the ring.
What matters in your life so much that you’re willing to fight for it?
What is not right in your life that you need to get mad about? The reality is we can’t lie to ourselves. We can lie to everybody else but we can’t lie to ourselves. I’m not talking about what’s not right in somebody else’s life. You let God deal with them. What’s not right in you, and you know it… and you’ve gone year after year after year and you’ve never fought for it and wrestled it to the ground.
If you can’t identify anything worth fighting for in your life you may as well sleep through the next 30 minutes. You’re going to be the same person you are. Stuck in a rut. Pick your fights wisely; make sure it’s not petty but something that really matters.
With God’s help, we can fight these opponents:
- I’ll fight for better health
- I’m going to fight for a closer walk with God
- I want a great marriage and I will fight for a great marriage.
- I’m going to fight for strong kids. I’m going to take up for them and I’m going to be in there for them and I’m going to fight for them.
- I’m at the same place I’ve been for quite a while. You need to fight for it.
- This year I’m going to fight to get out of debt. I’m tired of being in debt. I’m tired of having the pressure of bills.
- I’ll fight for authenticity. I’m going to be the real me… not what everybody else wants me to be. I’m going to be who God made me authentically to be.
You have a fight worth fighting. In that you are going to have obstacles, challenges, issues to face but no matter what your fight is about, your biggest obstacle is here:
Show Video Clip - Punching in mirror
Show Slide - Still photo of Adonis punching in mirror
“Your toughest opponent is the one you are looking at in the mirror,” Rocky tells Adonis. When we decide to fight for something we cannot do it alone, we need someone in our corner, we need a trainer.
All throughout the Bible people have had to decide what was worth fighting for, especially when it came to following God’s call. Their journeys were never alone but always in the context of community. This is especially true in the case of two men in the Old Testament, Elisha and Elijah. Elijah was a prophet of God. He had the power of the priesthood. He had the power of God. He had become old and God spoke to Elijah to anoint the next prophet, a younger guy by the name of Elisha. Elisha’s call story comes from 1 Kings 19:19-21.
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. I’m sure Elisha had to convince himself is the call worth fighting for.
Elisha, like Adonis Creed had to make a decision of what was worth fight for and had to leave some things behind to fight/follow God’s call. Adonis left behind his paying job, the comfort of his city and his mom to follow his call. Elisha left behind:
- Parents - Loved ones are often involved in a decision.
- Position - Who will tend the farm?
- Passion for glory - He loved that field full of hired hands.
Elisha wanted to go to the next level. He wanted to experience more of God’s power, strength, wisdom, provision and love. There was a stirring in Elisha to do great things. Adonis cared about the job he had but there was something in him that wanted to go past having a comfortable, well-paying job what everybody was expecting from him.
Elisha takes up Elijah's mantle. A mantle was like an overcoat, or an outer covering. One size fit all. If you were shorter or smaller, you tucked it up with a rope belt or pinned it together with a brooch.
To follow his true call he had to get a trainer, someone who was going to be in his corner to show him the ropes.
Who’s in your corner?
You can’t accomplish your dream alone. No matter how much independence you want and the pride of doing it on your own, you can’t. Let’s watch:
Show Video Clip - who's in your corner?
If Adonis didn’t have Rocky in his corner he wouldn’t engage in the fight. When you have the right person in your corner you feel like you can enter the ring.
Show Slide - Still photo of Rocky in Corner
Muhammad Ali said, “The greatest lesson I’ve learned was from that fight. That to always have someone in your corner who’s pushing you and making you do things you don’t think you can do.”
To always have someone in your corner pushing you and making you do things you don’t think you can do. This is what Elijah did for Elisha. Elisha was trained for eight years to be ready for his fight/ministry.
When we find the right people in our corner and with God’s help can do anything. We want to have the right people with us and spend as much time with them to soak up the training and knowledge.
As a kid who had trouble sitting still in the classroom the last thing I ever imagined myself doing was going on for further schooling when I didn’t have to. However, when I was in seminary in Kentucky, I happen to meet a guy who became my mentor, workout partner and eventually my friend for the past 13 years. Peter Bellini, lives in Dayton, Ohio, and when he started to lead a doctoral group at UTS, I knew I wanted to learn from him, which meant enrolling in more school. When I’d get discouraged or frustrated balancing everything, Pete would encourage me in my fight and not let me give up. In fact, when I graduated seminary he gave me a pair of boxing gloves as a gift.
Friends, there are times we want to quick, times we want to give up, but those people in our corner, those truth tellers, those God uses to train us won’t let us give up, even when we get knocked down. I don’t know about you, but I need those people in my life. The question is not if we get knocked down, but when we get knocked down, will we get back up? This is exactly what Adonis is facing. He’s getting back up to fight.
Show Video Clip - Adonis getting knocked down and saying in the corner he’s not a mistake.
Friends, we may have made mistakes in our life be we are not a mistake. Don’t give up. Don’t give up from being the person God wants you to be.
In 2 Kings 2, Elisha had the preserve and pursue Elijah because he wanted to be a man of God just like him no matter what, especially in the final scene of Elijah’s life before he is taken up into the heavens.
Elijah tells Elisha to stay put. Elisha refuses. "I will go where you go." This happens three times. If you plot their journey on a map, you will find that they wander around in the Jordan River valley… It is not a straight line. Therefore, it is not about a route, but a relationship. It is not where, but whom. Then there are the people on the sidelines who taunt. The companies of prophets tell Elisha to give up, but he doesn't. I know that this never happens us today as we try to follow Jesus. People don't tell us that we're stupid, or going the wrong way. Oh, they do.
When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you before I’m taken from you? Ask anything.” Elisha said, “Your life repeated in my life. I want to be a holy man just like you. “That’s a hard one!” said Elijah. “But if you’re watching when I’m taken from you, you’ll get what you’ve asked for. But only if you’re watching.” 2 Kings 2:9-10
You may think he is asking for twice the spirit that Elijah has, but it means something else. In Biblical times, the older son got 2/3 of the estate and the younger son got 1/3. I know it doesn't seem fair, but that's the way it was. By asking for a double portion, Elisha is asking to be Elijah's eldest son. He is saying, "I want you to be my spiritual father. I want to carry on your work." And when the time comes for Elijah to be carried up into heaven in a whirlwind, Elisha shouts, "Father, father."
Have you ever stood in someone’s corner? Have you been a part of a mentoring relationship that did not begin in friendship but blossomed into one? In the recovery community, we call this sponsorship. In my own experience, it doesn’t take long for mentor and mentee to become friends, often very close friends.
Before you can be one, you need to receive someone’s mentor you need one yourself.
This happens with Adonis and Rocky. Adonis starts by looking up to Rocky as this larger than life figure, someone that can do anything. Spoiler alert… when Rocky is diagnosed with cancer and is recovery from chemo he needs to lean on Adonis.
Show Video Clip - whose corner are you in?
Show Slide - “If I fight, you fight.”
Allowing someone to be in our corner means we are willing to be in their corner when the time comes for it. This is exactly what we mean when we talk about being in a life group, having a support system and people that can challenge us and we can challenge them. But it takes vulnerability.
One of the most iconic scenes in the Rocky movie saga is Rocky running up the stairs of the Philadelphia’s art museum. There are times in our lives when are running up the steps when life is good. But what happens when you can’t take the next step? The next step seems so far away. You didn’t see it coming. You can’t move forward by yourself.
Show Video Clip - Running up Stairs
Man, I love that scene! Look how effortlessly and victoriously he does that. When we contrast that with the last scene of creed we see something different.
However in the movie, Creed, as Rocky is recovering from cancer he no longer can run up the stairs in Philadelphia like he use to but a greater testament to his strength is his willingness to walk alongside Adonis. Rocky is not convinced it’s worth fighting for but it comes full circle where the mentor needs help and it flips back/forth many times.
Show Video Clip - together walking
Friends, this is exactly what the Christian faith is about. It’s walking the steps together, one step at a time to get to the top, iron sharpening iron and fighting together.
Show Slide of Rocky and Adonis Walking Steps
The hope is we can say like the Apostle Paul 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith!”
I believe we all want to say we have fought the good fight. Paul couldn’t do it alone and neither can we.
Let’s take a moment of silent reflection to review the following question, or you can write your answers in your message map.
- What is it you are fighting for?
- Who’s in your corner? Who’s that person who can walk those steps with you?
- Who is someone that needs you in their corner?
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