Potiphar, a pivotal character in Andrew Lloyd Webers “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” appears on stage for less than five minutes. Despite that very brief time on stage, the actor portraying him spends countless hours rehearsing his role. You see the tip of the iceberg when Potiphar changes the life of the titular character in the play, but there’s a whole lot more the audience never sees.
In fact, there’s even more to that iceberg, because Potiphar is surrounded by other actors, who have also spent a great deal of time getting ready for the show. Add to that the Orchestra that supports the singing, the Set Designers and builders that transform the stage into a palace in Egypt, the Costume Designer and her crew, the Choreographer, the Musical Director, the stage hands, Stage Manager and her assistant, Director, Producers, Front of House folks and heaven knows how many others, the tip of the iceberg looks pretty small when compared to the rest of it. Staging a musical is a big, complicated thing.
As people of faith we often summarize what we believe and how we interact with the simple phrase “Love one another”. If you’re really fancy, you might say “Love one another as you would be loved. It’s a wonderful, pithy, easy-to-remember expression that also happens to sound great. No wonder we love to share it with others and use it as our guiding principle for life.
It is, however, what I suggest is only a “Tip-Of-The-Iceberg” expression because, despite its simplicity and directness, there is way more to it than it might suggest.
Think, for a moment, what that phrase means to you. How do you personally unpack it? For me, it means caring for others no matter who they are. It also means forgiving others when they hurt you; support people; welcome the stranger; practice justice; model Jesus’ way of life; call people to account when they don’t act lovingly. See what I mean? Saying “Love one another” is just the tip of the iceberg when you start to think about what it means and what it looks like in real life.
One more thing. From the surface, it looks like Icebergs are set apart and far off from one another. Yet below the surface, where they spread out to their full size, I imagine them being in close contact with one another. Some might be neighbours reaching out in friendship. Others may be strangers bumping into to one another. There are caregivers comforting their charges, leaders urging others on, curious crowds living their lives or throngs of worshipers gathered together to praise God.
Sometimes all we see are the tips of the Icebergs that fill the sea along with us. But when we follow Jesus, we are closer to one another than we might think, loving one another in more ways than we can possibly imagine.