On March 10, 1904, Harry Houdini was challenged by a London newspaper to escape from the new complex set of handcuffs. Thousands gathered to watch. Houdini ducked into a box to struggle out of sight. After 20 minutes he appeared. The crowd roared with approval but realized he was still bound. He smiled and ducked back again. Fifteen minutes later he emerged again, this time to flex his knees. Down he went. Twenty minutes later he came out – still cuffed. He used his pocketknife to slash off his coat. The crowd cheered him on. Finally, 10 minutes later he came out, free of the cuffs. The crowd gave him an extended ovation. Later a reporter asked, “Mr. Houdini, why did you keep coming out when you weren’t free of the handcuffs? The escape artist replied, “I needed to hear the encouragement of the crowd.”
We need godly encouragement in the Christian community. Week after week we are assaulted by this world. We’re in conflict with our culture. We experience physical and emotional fatigue, family tensions and personal struggles with besetting sins. We need to come out of the darkness of isolation into the light of Christian fellowship. We need to experience true, genuine encouragement in the Body of Christ – not to win the applause of others, but to be reassured of God’s promises and his love. Such encouragement gives us courage to go back to our struggles with new energy and hope.
There was a man in the NT who was an encourager – his name? Joseph of Cyprus. But when the apostles saw him in action they nicknamed him Barnabas which means “son of encouragement.” May his tribe increase.