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By Bailey Jarnagin

CLEVELAND, Ga (TMNews) – Dr. Allen Jackson, Senior Pastor at Dunwoody Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, related to Truett-McConnell students at the weekly chapel service as he discussed doing the will of God in the midst of transition.

Stuck in the in-between

Jackson began his message by inquiring of the congregation, “How many of you have ever been in an in-between place? You’re stuck in-between jobs, or in-between semesters, or in-between majors. There’s a lot of things that move us that way.”

Jackson then turned to Acts chapter 11, where a group of people are found to be stuck in an in-between stage of life. “There are three distinct groups of people doing three distinct groups of things, and I’m wondering if you might find yourself in one of those groups,” said Jackson.

In a brief history of Acts, Jackson described the calling of the first deacons, the escalation of Christian persecutions, and the prominent New Testament martyrs. The culmination of these events led to the diaspora, or, the dispersing of the Jews.

“What happened in the New Testament is that the church scattered. Some of them went about 400 miles north to this place called Antioch,” he explained.

Jackson continued, “The scattering here is something done by the Romans who just didn’t like trouble, the religious Jewish folk who wanted to eradicate this before it got any traction; but what man meant for harm, God meant for good.”

Jackson shared that he often empathizes with these Jews involved in the diaspora because any time he has found himself in an in-between stage of life, he has been able to consider the situation and detect how what man meant for harm, God meant for good.

“Anytime I didn’t have the answers for what happens tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day, this principle has been working in the background,” Jackson said.

He continued, “In what seems to be chaos, God will bring order. What seems to be broken, God will repair it, but He can’t repair it until I’m at the end of myself. He can’t fix it unless I give Him all the tools. He can’t heal it unless I surrender any ability I think that I might have to make it all better.”

Scattered but speaking

The first group of people Jackson described can be found in Acts 11:6, those who were scattered but speaking.

“When you’re scattered, when you’re persecuted, when you’re stuck, one of the great opportunities is to minister to those who are closest to you. Those who scattered, their first instinct was to share the message of the resurrected Christ to those who were right around them,” said Jackson.

Jackson painted a picture of encouragement with an illustration involving hot air balloons: “On the outer edge of the basket people get in, there are sand bags all around. When you want to go higher, you shoot more hot air into the balloon and start letting go of the sand bags. You release weight in order for the balloon to rise higher. That’s the definition of encouragement.”

Bold and unbiased

The second group of people, found in Acts 20, are those who are bold and unbiased. “They were doing something probably no one else had done,” stated Jackson. “They began to speak to the Greeks, and it says the Lord was with them.”

Though these people were not witnesses to Peter’s dream in Acts 10 where it was made explicitly clear salvation is for all those who believe, they were confident of the power of the Gospel and therefore proclaimed it to all who would listen.

Jackson continued, “In Acts 4:36, the Scripture introduces us to this guy named Barnabas. Barnabas was not his real name; it was his nickname. He was called the son of encouragement. He was so known for helping people get rid of their excess baggage and be who they were supposed to be that he was called Barnabas.”

Encouraged and edified

Barnabas falls into the third category of people, the encouraged and edified.

Jackson then launched into the story of Paul and Barnabas’ disagreement involving Barnabas’ cousin journeying with them after having previously deserted them. Barnabas desired for his cousin to accompany them; Paul was diametrically opposed to the idea.

“They split. They separated. They went their own way, and you never hear from Barnabas again. The rest of Acts is about the apostle Paul,” said Jackson, “but what man meant for evil, God meant for good. The first church split was actually something that created lots of new churches.”

Jackson then prompted an examination of the meaning of the verbs present in the aforementioned Scriptures: “They didn’t call themselves Christians. The way the verbs are set up, other people observed them and then gave them that label. People who had looked at them, all they could see was Jesus, so they called them Christians.”

Jackson concluded: “This Antioch church was in an in-between place, but they were called little Christ because they were full of Jesus. You’re probably in an in-between place, but in that in-between place, are you scattered and speaking, bold and unbiased, or encouraged and edifying?”

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Bailey is a senior English major and a freelance writer for the college.

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