Joas Adiprasetya, a pastor and seminary professor in Jakarta, Indonesia, has proposed an alternative to our ubiquitous “servant leadership” paradigm. He calls it philiarchy, the rule of friendship. “I have called you friends,” Jesus says, still dripping wet from the foot washing (John 15:15). This friendship is not one-sided. Jesus needs his friends, just as they need him. The rule of philiarchy means we honor others’ personhood and don’t try to subsume it into our projects, our needs, our selves.
Adiprasetya invited me to speak at his seminary. I invited him to Vancouver to teach our students. This isn’t favoritism to a friend. It’s creative friendship. We wanted our students to learn from each other. Our friends and our friends’ friends were blessed. We trusted what we were going to get precisely because we’d spent time together doing nothing but enjoying one another. He introduced me to durian—a fruit banned on public transit across Asia for its pungency and now banned from the Byassee household as well. I heard him preach in Indonesian with the fervor that I wanted among my students in Vancouver. He studied Jürgen Moltmann’s social trinitarianism. I hate social trinitarianism. I knew I was in love.
Creative friendship is worth the risk. Just ask Jesus, Peter, James, and John. When Jesus commands us to love one another, to befriend as God has done in Christ, it is hard to wriggle off the hook. Creative friendship is a means of salvation, not less promised by Christ than the sacraments or the scriptures or creation itself.
Read it all (registration or subscription).