Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 23, 2008
VIDEO – Play DQ “Antidisestablishmentarianism” commercial
a pretty big word. The kind of word you can use to impress your
friends. It’s a word that basically means that you’re against the
people who are against the people who are in control. And it comes in
at 28 letters, making it one of the longest non-technical words in the
I say non-technical because when you get into
the technical words you could be looking at thousands of letters. For
example, there’s a protein known as Titin. It’s known as Titin because
nobody can say the real name. Here it is…
[Copy from http://www.othyr.com/titin.html]
189,819 letters. That’s a long word! When I found that online and
pasted it into Microsoft Word, it took up 48 pages! That’s a long word.
But it’s a technical word. So we’re going to rule that out.
already said that Antidisestablishmentarianism is one of the longest
non-technical words in the English language. It’s actually the second
longest. We’re going to talk about the longest non-technical word
today. Because I think it describes a problem – maybe even a disease –
that we have in our lives and in our churches today.
If you play Scrabble, that’s definitely a word you want to know.
Because at 29 letters, it’s the longest non-technical word in the
dictionary. If you’re able to somehow finagle that onto a Scrabble
board, you’re in for some huge points.
And basically it means that you judge something as being worthless.
Floccinaucinihilipilification: the act of judging something to be
means you see something or someone as having absolutely no value. It
means you see something as being entirely trivial. In other words, it’s
a big word for nothing.
One of my favourite authors is Leonard
Sweet. He’s a professor at Drew Theological Seminary and in 2007 was
voted as the 8th most influential Christian leader in America (see
Just as a side
note, when Shera and I were in Kansas visiting her grandparents this
past summer, we were staying in their apartment with them, and just
across the street was a StarBucks. So every morning, I headed over to
StarBucks to read one of Leonard Sweet’s books. And the book I chose
was “The Gospel According to StarBucks.”
Anyway, Leonard Sweet
also has a podcast called Napkin Scribbles, and earlier this year on
that podcast he talked about he sees floccinaucinihilipilification as
being a real problem in the Church. In fact, he says we in the Church
are absolutely addicted to floccinaucinihilipilification. He says we
tend to be down on ourselves and negative about everything.
you know what? I think he’s right. I think Christians do have that
reputation, and at times it’s been earned. Because it’s easy for us to
judge others. It’s easy for us to complain and gripe about what’s going
on in the world. It’s easy for us to point to the problems in other
people’s lives. It’s easy and even fun for us to gossip and tear others
A few years ago, the American Heart Association printed
an article that argued that despair has the same effect on the human
heart as smoking a pack a day of cigarettes. A lot of followers of
Christ are smoking a pack a day… not of cigarettes but of despair and
Now, I don’t think that’s a major problem here at
Sunrise… In fact, I think we’re very positive and affirming of each
other and we even love and accept those who don’t share our faith.
the problem with the disease of floccinaucinihilipilification is that
once it starts spreading, it can be hard to contain. It’s contagious,
and it can spread quickly throughout the entire Body leaving us in a
state of despair.
Let me give you an example. The economy right
now is struggling. There’s been a worldwide meltdown. Now, some of that
is just bound to happen from time to time in a free market economy.
It’s like a built in correction.
But when the recent problems
began to manifest themselves, how quickly did the fear and the despair
and the negativity spread throughout our entire society? The despair
took over and made the problem that much worse.
happens with politicians. One minute, a politician may be very popular.
The next minute, everyone’s turned on them. Is there any particular
reason? Sometimes. But mostly, I think it’s because this negativity –
this floccinaucinihilipilification – is contagious.
sad is that it even happens within the Church, among followers of
Jesus, where we should be the most positive, most hope-filled people on
Let me ask you this: What’s the opposite of despair?
It’s hope, right? Well, every study that has ever been done on the
subject of hope has shown that people who have hope live longer than
people who live in despair. Living in despair is killing us. This
floccinaucinihilipilification is killing us. It’s a disease that’s
going to do us in.
But that’s not the way it should be. That’s
not the way is has to be. Hope, not despair, should define a
Christ-follower. In fact, at about this time last year in the Catholic
Church, the Pope in an encyclical argued that hope should be a
distinguishing mark of a Christian.
Take a look at this verse…
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give
the reason for the hope that you have.
the underlying assumption of that verse? The underlying assumption of
that verse is that you do have hope. That you have an obvious hope that
will be evident to others. Do you have a hope like that?
PLAY SONG – “Just what makes that little ant think He can move a rubber
tree plant? But he’s got high hopes.”
and I should have high hope. In fact, our hope should be the highest of
all because it’s based in the One who has the name about every name,
the one who reigns on high.
So what I want us to realize this
morning is that we don’t have to give in to
floccinaucinihilipilification. Instead of living in despair, we can
live with hope. Instead of living in negativity, we can be positive
about life. Instead of tearing others down and treating them as
worthless, we can add value to peoples’ lives and build them up.
So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to look at six areas
where we tend to be negative, but the truth is we can and should have
I Can Have Hope in…
many of us get down on ourselves? I think we all beat ourselves up over
something once in a while. Some of us have it down to an art. We
belittle ourselves, think we can’t do anything right, and see
absolutely no worth in ourselves. Some of us don’t really struggle with
it that much, but others of us can be overwhelmed with this kind of low
But that’s completely counter to how God sees you
and how He wants you to see yourself. Listen, you are a child of God.
He created you in His own image. He has equipped you with gifts and
abilities and passions that no one else has. He cares about you
specifically and calls you by name. He loves you so much that He was
willing to enter into His own creation and die for you. That’s how much
worth… that’s how much hope He sees in you.
So when you start to
feel down and start to wonder why you’re here and what you have to
offer, remind yourself of that. The writer of Psalm 119 reminded
himself of that…
Psalm 119:14,17-18 (NLT)
Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is
marvelous—how well I know it. …
precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I
can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
then over in the New Testament, Jesus tells you that God cares so much
about you that He even knows the number of hairs there are on your
head. Admittedly, that’s a greater feat for some of us than for others…
you may struggle to think highly of yourself, but God thinks very
highly of you. And you can have confidence in that. God doesn’t want us
to become proud and arrogant, but He does want us to recognize the
value He places in us and have a confidence and assurance and hope
because of it.
My present circumstances
think you’ve got problems? You think you’ve got it tough? Let me tell
you, you’ve got it easy compared to what some have had to endure around
the world and throughout the centuries. Back in the first century,
there were plenty of reasons for despair.
Back then, you had 50%
of people living as slaves. Most people were malnourished. You’d be
paying 50% of your income to Rome in taxes. There was violence
everywhere, there were insurrections, rebellions, demonstrations… You
had people be crucified, even thousands at the same time just strung
along the roadside.
But in the midst of all this incredible
reason for despair, you find these disciples of Jesus who were people
of hope and that’s all they talked about. That was a distinguishing
mark of a Christ-follower. And every book in the New Testament is in
some way a book of hope.
We’ve talked before about the apostle
Paul. Paul endured all kinds of suffering. He was shipwrecked, he was
nearly beaten to death, he was imprisoned, he had people conspiring
against him, he had death threats against him… Yet this is what He
Philippians 4:4,12-13 (NLT)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!...
know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned
the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full
stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything
through Christ, who gives me strength.
That’s a man who knew how to live with hope.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for
this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
of his circumstances, Paul was always able to live with a hope. Why?
Because his hope wasn’t based on his circumstances. His hope was based
in Jesus Christ. His hope was based on the enduring Word of God. His
hope was based in the everlasting King who is completely trustworthy,
who keeps His promises, and who never changes.
we’re talking about hope, so it’d probably be good to say what hope is.
Because for the Christian, hope is not just wishful thinking; it is a
sure expectation. It’s the assurance that God is going to come through
on His promises. And there’s a great promise in Jeremiah 29…
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for
good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
you trust God? Do you believe that He has everything under His power?
They what reason do you have to despair, even when you don’t know
what’s going to happen down the road? Even when you don’t know how
things are going to turn out, does that make God any less trustworthy?
No, of course not. So there’s no reason to despair about your future.
That’s true for this life and the life to come. God is entirely
trustworthy and He will come through on all His promises.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 17-18 (NLT)
are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and
broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted
down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up
again and keep going…
For our present troubles are quite small and
won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great
glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can
see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen.
For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will
The way I see others
me ask you this: Who’s the most positive person who ever lived? Jesus,
right? I mean, he was never a pansy and He never shied away from
confronting people about the sin in their lives. But He was also able
to see beyond that to see the value of the person.
Here’s something I read online this week…
saw potential in prostitutes, possibilities for lepers, and promise in
the hearts of fishermen. Jesus always seemed to find the good in the
people with whom he came into contact. He treated Zacchaeus, the hated
tax collector… like he was the most important person in town that day.
He touched people who were “unclean” and hadn’t been touched in some
time. He fed people when they were hungry, healed them when they were
sick, and showed them the love of God even when they felt (and were
probably told) that they were unlovable.”
~ Joe Iovino
that was true even when Jesus was hanging on the cross. Even when He
was in total agony, he was able to see the worth of the thief hanging
on the cross beside Him. And He even offered forgiveness and prayed for
the people who nailed Him there.
Jesus had an incredible way
of seeing the value of people, even through the mess they may have made
of their lives. You and I need to learn to see people the way Jesus
You know, it’s easy to point fingers and blame people
for the problems in their lives. It’s easy to look down on people,
telling everyone what’s wrong with them while at the same time acting
as if we’ve got it all together. And it’s tempting to join in on the
conversations when a group of people begin to gossip and slander
But this is what the Bible says…
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is
helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may
benefit those who listen.
And Jesus said…
Matthew 7:1-2 (Msg)
pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless,
of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way
a lot of people are down on the Church today. They call it irrelevant,
they say it’s full of hypocrites, they say we’re intolerant and bigoted
and narrow-minded. I don’t think that’s particularly accurate, but
that’s the impression a lot of people have.
history there have been people connected with the Church who have done
some terrible things. There have been worse things done by people
outside of the Church, but still…
Even today, the Church is full
of fallible people who still make mistakes, who are still prone to sin,
and who at times can do terrible things. You know it’s true because
you’re one of them. And so am I. And it’s easy to get down on the
Church because of these things.
But the Church has also been the
source of many great things. Humanitarian organizations, hospitals, the
great universities and colleges of the world, contributions to music
and art and literature… That’s on a grand scale, but even on a smaller
Christ-followers are more generous, they’re more likely
to help out someone in need, and as they grow spiritually they become
increasingly loving and accepting of others.
And then there’s
the greatest reason of all to have hope in the Church. God has equipped
the Church with the mandate of reconciling people to Him. And there is
no plan B, we’re it. We are God’s choice to bring a lost and hurting
world back to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:18b-20 (NLT)
And God has
given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ,
reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins
against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.
there are lots of reasons to get down about the Church. But there are
even greater reasons to celebrate the Church and have high hopes about
what God can do through us. God believes in us, so let’s believe in
I believe with all my heart that with God working
through us the Church is the hope of the world. There’s no reason to be
ashamed or embarrassed about being part of the Church. That’s a reason
to celebrate. You can have hope about the Church and your role as part
Telling Others about Jesus
for some reason, there tends to be a shyness or a fear connected with
telling others about our faith in Jesus. I don’t know what it is –
maybe we just know the stakes are so high that we freeze up. But it’s
exactly because the stakes are so high that we need to tell people
Romans 1:16 (NLT)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of
God at work, saving everyone who believes…
Good News about Jesus is the power of God working to save people who
otherwise will be lost for eternity. Could the stakes be any higher?
We’ve got to be about the business of telling people about Jesus.
there are a couple ways you can do that. One way is to tell your own
story about what God has done in your life and why you’ve placed your
hope in Jesus. That’s the most effective way. We just recently had a
seminar called “Go Fish” to help you know how to do that in a more
comfortable and authentic way. We’ll offer more training like that in
But another thing you can do is just get people in a
setting where they will hear the message about Jesus. Invite them to
Church. With our 100% Sunday coming up next week, that’s one of the
things we ask you to do… invite someone to come with you. And then
perhaps you’d like to go out with them for lunch afterward or have them
over to your house in case they have any questions.
Now, we tend
to be afraid to invite people to church because we’ve already conceded
that they’re going to turn us down. But the truth is 82% of unchurched
people are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are
invited. They might not show up uninvited, but with an invitation
they’re at least going to consider it.
Can you comprehend that?
8 out of 10 of your friends and co-workers would be at least somewhat
likely to come if you invited them. But the sad fact is, only 21% of
active churchgoers invite anyone to church in the course of a year. And
even worse, only 2% of us invite someone who’s not already attending
Think about this… In Charlottetown and the
surrounding areas, we’re looking at about 40,000 people. Statistically,
only about 15% are attending church on a regular basis. So on any given
Sunday morning, only 6000 are attending a church… any church. That
means that 34,000 are shoveling their walkways, taking their kids to
hockey or just sleeping in.
And of those 34,000, 27,880 of them
are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are invited… many
are very likely. There are people just waiting to be invited to church.
They’re eager to come, but nobody’s asking.
So let’s not get
down on telling people about Jesus and exposing them to His message.
The potential response is incredible, if we’ll just start to do it.
It’s a mouthful, but it’s a word we need to learn (or at least learn
about) so we can throw it down, stomp on it, and get rid of it once and
“We don’t have to fear and fret, to be distracted or
consumed by despair. We are already living in light of the victory that
has already been won. What hope we have. We ought to be the people who
are known for, whatever is going on out there… we are people of hope.”
~ Leonard Sweet
something we’ve talked about has resonated with you this morning. Maybe
you’ve been experiencing feelings of hopelessness or despair in one of
Or maybe it’s not in one of the areas at all. Maybe
it’s in another area altogether. But you’re still losing hope and
you’re giving in to despair. Understand, it’s not God’s desire that any
of His followers live in despair.
So what do you do about it?
Well, I think it comes right back to the basics. One thing you need to
be doing is spending time in the Word of God. Discover the wonderful
promises God makes to us there. And believe that God will do what He
says He will do.
And then be sure to spend time in prayer. Let
Him reassure you personally that He’s in control. And ask Him to fill
you with His hope.
When Jesus told His followers that He was
going to be arrested and executed, and then that He would rise from the
dead, come back and see them, and then return to Heaven, He told His
followers not to be afraid because He would be sending someone else to
help them. Who was He talking about? He was talking about the Holy
And Jesus kept His promise. And the Holy Spirit is here
with us now… guiding us, helping us, convicting us, empowering us. But
there’s a specific word that Jesus used for the Holy Spirit that you’ll
find in some translations of the Bible. It’s the word “Comforter.”
you are living in despair, then you need to experience the ministry of
the Comforter. So when you pray, ask that the Comforter will comfort
you. That He will infuse you with hope. And then begin to live out that
• http://thebody.tlumc.org/blog/ blog by
“Addicted to Floccinaucinihilipilification” by Leonard Sweet (Napkin
Scribbles podcast for February 21, 2008)