God On Film 2010 part 6
The Karate Kid
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 8, 2010
A little over a month ago, I got to go and see the remake of one of the
classic movies from the 1980s. Of course, that’s when I was a teenager
and it was one of my favourite movies of the time. I don’t know how
many times I’ve seen the original, but I can tell you that I have seen
the remake exactly one time. But I’m going to stop counting there,
because I’m sure I’ll see it many more times in the years to come.
I’m talking, of course, about The Karate Kid. How many of you have seen at least one of the Karate Kid movies?
original movie came out in 1984, starring Ralph Macchio as Daniel
LaRusso and Pat Morita of Happy Days fame as Mr. Miyagi. And it quickly
became pretty popular, spawning all kinds of merchandize like action
figures, head bands, posters, an animated TV series, and even a video
game. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Karate_Kid) Even the critics
liked it; Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars. And the American
Film Institute lists it among the 100 most inspiring movies of all time
And so you know what happens to a hit movie… sequels! So
you’ve got The Karate Kid II and The Karate Kid III, both with Daniel
and Mr. Miyagi. And by the way, the kid who played Daniel? He’s now 48
years old. (November 4, 1961).
Then there came The Next Karate Kid, which starred Hillary Swank in her first leading role.
now, in 2010, they’ve rebooted the series with Jackie Chan playing Mr.
Han and Will Smith’s son Jaden playing a 12-year old kid named Dre… a
bit younger than Daniel was. Now, it’s a bit odd because it’s actually
about Kung Fu and not Karate, but the movie was actually pretty good.
Most of the critics liked it, and it’s brought in about $255 million at
the box office, making it the top grossing film in the franchise, the
#1 Action Remake ever, the #2 Martial Arts film, and #9 of any movie
with a June release.
(http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=karatekid2010.htm as of August
So you know what happens to a hit movie… a sequel is already in the works.
movies come and go here so quickly that it’s already out of the
theatre. So this is the only movie this summer in our God On Film
series that you actually can’t go to see anymore. Every other movie in
this series has been playing the theatre. But when it comes out on DVD,
I’d recommend you get hold of it.
But I want to talk about this
movie anyway because I think there are some things we can learn from
it, specifically when it comes to training.
Lynn read a passage for us earlier that said…
1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT)
All athletes are disciplined in their training.
So we’re talking about training this morning. All right everyone, 10 laps. Let’s go.
are you still here? Okay, no laps this morning. We’re not talking about
physical training anyway; we’re talking about spiritual training. We’re
talking about growing up and becoming better and healthier spiritually.
Why is Spiritual Training Important?
A. We train spiritually in order to become more like Jesus
the movie, Dre trained in order to become more like Mr. Han. He had
seen Mr. Han in action, and he knew right then that he wanted to be
trained to become like him.
We train to become more like Jesus.
That’s the number one goal of spiritual training. That should be the
goal of every Christ-follower. It’s really what spiritual growth or
spiritual maturity is all about. Part of your very purpose in life
needs to be to become more like Jesus.
Romans 8:29 (NLT)
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son…
plan has always been to make you like His Son… Jesus. Now, don’t get me
wrong. Let’s be clear about what this verse is saying… It’s not saying
you’re going to become a god. You will never be a god. I mean, you may
want people to think you’re a god, and sometimes you may act like you
think you’re a god, but you’ll never be a god. And God doesn’t want you
to become a god; He wants you to become godly. He wants you to develop
His character… the way He thinks, the way He acts, the way He feels,
His values, His moral character.
Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ…
other words, God wants you to grow up. You know, babies are cute. In
fact, there are no babies cuter than my babies. Just yesterday, Noah
had some pictures taken. Take a look…
one of my sons. The other son and I went for a walk earlier this week,
and if you’ve ever walked with a two year old it can become an
adventure. We had just started on the walk when he suddenly crouched
down and said, “Look Daddy, what’s that?” So I took a look, “It’s a
caterpillar, son.” “Oooo, a caterpillar.”
Two steps later, he’s
back down – “Look, Daddy. An ant.” And sure enough, there was an ant
scurrying across the road. I knew right then that this was going to be
an exciting trip.
About three steps later, “Look Daddy.” I
couldn’t tell what he was looking at, so I asked him. “What is it,
Nate?” “It’s a rock.”
Yeah, toddlers and babies are cute, aren’t
they? But if stayed that way, it’d be tragic. God doesn’t want us to
remain as spiritual babies. He wants us to mature. And what does
spiritual maturity look like? Just take a long look at Jesus. But
unfortunately, a lot of people grow older but never grow up. I know
people who have been Believers for years and years, but they’ve never
We need to grow up spiritually. We need to become
more like Jesus. And in order for that to happen, we need to enter into
B. We train spiritually to increase our spiritual health
happens when you enter into physical training? Well, you usually have
some kind of an exercise regime and you have a diet you need to stick
to. You need to be nourished and you need to be stretched. And what
happens? You become more skilled and you become healthier.
is true for you. You will only grow spiritually when you are nourished
by God’s Word and through prayer, and when you are stretched by
stepping out in obedience to God, following Him, and trusting Him.
That’s the kind of training you need.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
strong, healthy and growing because he’s committed to the Word of God
and putting it into practice. Leonard Sweet in his book AquaChurch
“Are we reading the Bible in such a way that it brings us
alive to relationships with Christ, even a God experience? Are we
reading the Bible in such a way that Christ—His love, His joy, His
grace, His peace—is being formed in us?”
~ Leonard Sweet, AquaChurch p. 59
love, His joy, His grace, His peace—His very character—is formed in us
when we are devoted to Him and to His Word… when we are devoted to
training ourselves spiritually.
You see, in life, spiritually or
otherwise, you’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward.
You’re progressing or you’re regressing. You’re growing or you’re
So you train so you can continue to grow… you can
continue to move forward… you can continue to become healthier and more
C. We train spiritually to be ready for spiritual attacks
kind of spiritual attacks? Well, anything that tries to weaken your
faith and rob you of your faith. We’re talking apathy, depression,
doubt, fear, unfaithfulness, temptation, people who will try to lead
you away from God, demonic forces, spiritual oppression… all kinds of
spiritual attacks. Paul wrote…
1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT)
Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
Paul talking about? He was talking about neglecting his relationship
with Jesus to the point that he loses it. In church circles, we call it
backsliding. But basically it means that a person can walk away or
wander away from their faith. It can happen suddenly, but usually it’s
just a gradual thing where you just start to let yourself go
spiritually. You stop praying, you stop reading your Bible, you start
to miss Sundays with the Church, you start to rationalize a little sin
here and there… and you end up a long ways away from God. As Paul put
it, when you stop training you end up disqualifying yourself.
the movie, Dre entered training so that he could defend himself against
some bullies and so he didn’t have to live in fear. We train
spiritually for basically the same thing. Read this with me…
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
more you devote yourself to spiritual training, the more power, love
and self-discipline you experience and the less fear and timidity you
Keys to Spiritual Training:
1. Spiritual training must be intentional
old is mandatory, growing up is optional. You only grow up when you
commit yourself to training and maturing. There are churches that are
filled with people who’ve attended church their entire lives, they
believe in Jesus, yet they’re still spiritual babies. As the writer of
Hebrews sadly noted…
Hebrews 5:12 (NIV)
… though by this time
you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary
truths of God’s word all over again.
What was their problem?
They heard all the right things, but they never trained. They never put
what they had been taught into practice. Plenty of time had passed, but
the people had not grown. And even today, millions of Christians have
grown older without ever growing up. Because it’s not automatic; it
must be intentional. A person must want to grow, decide to grow, and
train to grow.
“There is an enormous difference between
growing old in the Lord and growing up in Him. One is automatic and
requires no effort at all... just aging. But the other is never
automatic or easy. It calls for personal discipline, continual
determination, and spiritual desire. Churches are full of sleepy saints
who are merely ‘logging time’ in God’s family.”
~ Charles Swindoll
Don’t let that be you. Spiritual growth is intentional.
2. Spiritual training takes focused effort
know why some people never grow spiritually? Because they’re not
willing to put the effort into it. They’re not willing to train. But if
you want to grow, it’s going to take effort. You’ve got to enter into
training and commit yourself to it.
In the movie, Dre and Mr.
Han take a trip to a mountaintop and visit what I expect was a mystic
Temple where Kung Fu masters trained and honed their skills. And Dre
was fascinated by one woman who was apparently staring down a cobra and
mimicking the cobra’s every move. They were moving their heads at the
same time, stretching out at the same time, recoiling at the same time…
and when Dre mentioned this to Mr. Han, Mr. Han corrected him. It
wasn’t the woman copying the cobra; it was the cobra copying the woman.
She was so focused that she could control the very movement of the
And so later on, Dre continued to talk about this with Mr. Han. Take a look…
[VIDEO – KARATE KID, FOCUS, from MovieMinistry.com]
wasn’t focused. His mind was everyplace else, and as a result he wasn’t
really putting the effort into the training. So Mr. Han had to teach
him the same thing the apostle Paul teaches us…
Romans 6:13 (NLT)
yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And
use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.
the word “completely.” And underline “your whole body.” That means
you’re focused. It means you’re going to put the effort in, no matter
what it takes. You’re going to grow.
“You should set your goals
high and direct your energies toward achieving them. Train your mind.
Develop your skills. Discipline your appetites. Prepare for the future.
Work hard. Go for it! You can’t steal second with one foot on first.”
~ James Dobson, Life on the Edge, ch. 4 p. 59
3. Spiritual training works better with training partners
course Daniel had Mr. Miyagi pushing him, Dre had Mr. Han. And for
anyone who goes into training for anything, it almost always works
better with training partners… whether it be one or two people, or a
whole team or class of people. You push each other, you stretch each
other, you watch for each other, you challenge each other, you
encourage each other, you hold each other accountable…
it comes to spiritual training, it’s not meant to be an isolated
solitary process. It’s meant to happen within the context of
relationships with other believers. In other words, the Church.
idolatry of individualism has influenced even the way we think about
spiritual growth. So much of the teaching on spiritual formation
is self-centered and self-focused without any reference to our
relationship to other Christians. This is completely unbiblical and
ignores much of the New Testament.”
~ Rick Warren
we need each other. We don’t grow in isolation from each other. We grow
and develop within the context of relationship, or fellowship. And we
see this truth over and over again in the New Testament. Let me give
you just two passages…
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
Think of ways
to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let
us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage
and warn each other…
Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part
does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the
whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
believers, need each other. If we’re going to train and grow and
mature, we need to be committed to participating in the Church… the
Body of Believers. Can you be a Christian and not be an active
participant in the Church? Well, I’d have to say “yes,” but it’ll be a
lot harder, you’re more likely to fall away, you’ll be disobeying clear
instructions from the Bible, and you’ll never reach the level of
effectiveness and maturity that you can when you’re within the Church.
4. Spiritual training will require sacrifice
[VIDEO – KARATE KID, Training (Are You Committed?) from MovieMinistry.com]
you’re going to become more like Jesus… if you’re going to be a fully
devoted follower of Jesus… if you are going to attain new heights of
spiritual growth… then it’s going to mean sacrifices.
“You have to give up to go up.”
~ John Maxwell
The early disciples understood this. In Luke chapter 5, we read…
Luke 5:27-28 (NLT)
as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at
his tax-collection booth. “Come, be my disciple!” Jesus said to him. So
Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
For Levi, it meant giving up what he knew. It meant giving up his source of income. It meant stepping into the unknown.
contrast that to the young man who came to Jesus asking how he could
receive eternal life. And after a brief discussion, Jesus told him…
Mark 10:21-22 (NLT)
and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this, the man’s face
fell, and he went sadly away because he had many possessions.
So what might you have to give up? What kind of sacrifices might you have to make in order to train and become more like Jesus?
let’s see. Time. You’ll have to give up some of your time and commit
that time to investing yourself in spiritual disciplines like reading
the Bible, praying, studying, worshipping, serving… Oh, you might enjoy
those kinds of things. But they still require a sacrifice of time.
there’s comfort. If you’re going to truly follow Jesus, then you’re not
always going to be comfortable. He’s require sacrifices of you. Some
people are even led to become missionaries and leave all the comforts
of Western living behind. For you, maybe you give up your comfort by
serving the poor. Or working with kids in the nursery. Or standing up
for what’s right even when other people will ridicule you.
else might you sacrifice? How about relationships? I think that every
one of us should have friendships with people who are far from God. I
think a Christian who is only friends with Christians is just isolating
themselves in an unhealthy and way. But are there one or two of those
relationships that are particularly harmful for you?
in that verse, it talks about money being something you’re called to
give up. You invest your money in ministry, in caring for the needy,
and in the church. A big part of spiritual training is learning to
tithe. In fact, I believe your spiritual growth will be stagnant until
you learn to tithe. What does tithing mean? Tithing means that you give
a tenth of your income to God through the church because a) you love
Jesus, and b) you believe in the mission of the church.
obviously the church needs money to simply exist and function, just
like any organization. But I don’t think that God asks you to tithe
just for the benefit of the Church. I think an even bigger reason is
for your own benefit. Giving to God is a form of worship. It teaches
you to trust Him. It reminds you that He is ultimately in control. It
stretches you and helps you to grow.
Shera and I have always
tithed our income and given to other needs and special offerings as
well. And when you figure out what 10% of your income is, your first
thought, is “Whoa, that’s a lot of money.” But when you start to
actually make that sacrifice and give that money, you’ll find that it’s
not really a sacrifice. Because God promises in the Bible, in the book
of Malachi, that He will bless you. And the 90% that’s left will
stretch farther than the 100% ever could before. That’s what we’ve
found to be true, anyway. And we’ll be talking more in a few weeks in
our You Asked for It series.
So with this whole idea of training
and growing to spiritual maturity and becoming more like Jesus, it is
going to require some sacrifices. At least on the front end. But the
payoff is always worth it.
5. Spiritual training must be under the direction of God
In the original Karate Kid movie, you had the great memorable lines…
“Wax on, wax off.”
“Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.” (great tribute to that in the movie)
“Sweep the Leg” was a phrase from the movie that was made into a song by No More Kings.
And there was even a Chicago-based rock band who named itself “Sweep the Leg, Johnny”
Well, the new movie has no real match for “Wax on, wax off.” But there was one great line…
“Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.”
~ Mr. Han
Man, when I heard that, I immediately thought of Psalm 46:10…
Psalm 46:10 (NLT)
“Be still, and know that I am God!”
in spiritual training, it’s not all about action. It’s not all about
doing. It’s not all about reading and studying and praying and going to
church and serving and giving…
It’s ultimately about submitting.
It’s about recognizing that God has first place in your life. It’s
being still before Him long enough for Him to speak into your life, to
reveal Himself to you, to develop character within you… It’s talking
the time to meditate on His Word… It’s being still before Him in humble
Because really, spiritual growth is not about what we
do; it’s about what God does. It’s how He moves in our lives and shapes
us into the people He intends for us to be. Yes, we make ourselves
available and we create the environment for growth and we stretch
ourselves and we train by practicing these spiritual habits or
disciplines. But when it comes right down to it, He is the One who
makes us grow.
Isaiah 64:8 (NLT)
And yet, LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand.
Spiritual growth is primarily about God taking us and shaping us, transforming us into the people He wants us to be.
1 Corinthians 3:7 (NIV)
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
going to be talking a lot more about spiritual training and spiritual
growth later this Fall. But is that your desire? Is it your aim to grow
spiritually, and to continue to grow throughout your life? Are you
devoted to putting the time and focus into it? Is it your desire to
become more like Jesus? If so, then why not pray something like this.
Just quietly, where you are, pray this…
Father, I want to
become the person You want me to be. Take me and train me. Mould me.
Make me more like You. I trust you, and I choose to follow you wherever
that may lead. In Jesus’ name I pray… Amen.