How Christians All Missed the Point of “He Gets Us”

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In the blazing fast world of the internet, my response to this is super late, I know. The reason is I didn’t want to write this post. You might not believe me, because you’re looking at the completed version. But I’m currently staring at a blank screen, wishing I was doing anything else.

Everyone who watched the 2024 Super Bowl also saw an internationally televised ad about the love, compassion, humility, and humanity of Jesus. It portrayed Christians (presumably) washing the feet of a wide variety of real, modern day people. Its message? Jesus knows our hurt—and he cares. He Gets Us.

Before the game was even over, the commentary began pouring in on social media. A myriad of memes hit the great newspapers of TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. The responses shouldn’t have surprised me. And I guess, If I’m honest, they didn’t. And that’s what makes me sad.

Woke Trash

Many who were nonreligious felt the ad was a little awkward. They wondered what the sell was going to be at the end. Understandable, considering some of their past experiences with religion.

The more alarming responses came from Christians. The attentive ones noticed the Family Planning Clinic in the background of one of the scenes, the pink butch haircut of a left-of-center lesbian in another, and the roller skates of a black gay man.

A pastor aquaintance of mine went as far as to say that it was put out by “100% neo-marxists.” By doing so, he turned it into the very us-and-them class war that he was condemning.

While that’s an extreme reaction, the moderate Christians also missed the point of the ad.

He Saves Us

The most common response to the campaign was the “fixed it!” response. A number of people wrote posts on why a better catchphrase would have been “He Saves Us”. One creative pastor even went to the trouble of making a whole new “fixed” video.

These responses were well-meaning, so I don’t want to give the impression that I think they were terrible. Their theology was good. They argued that the phrase “He Gets Us” is incomplete. “He Gets Us” doesn’t save people from their sin. “He Gets Us” doesn’t really point to the cross or communicate the Gospel.

And in that much I agree. I am not advocating for social justice gospel. Jesus came to earth with a greater mission than simply healing the sick, washing feet, and standing up for the underdog.

So What’s the Problem?

I really have no problem with the content of the fixed version of the video ad. I would be quick to show the fixed version as a bumper video before a church service. It’s energetic, worshipful, and inspiring. The problem with the fixed version is that it completely changes the target audience of the ad.

The people behind “He Gets Us” describe their agenda this way:

”Our agenda at He Gets Us is to move beyond the mess of our current cultural moment to a place where all of us are invited to rediscover the love story of Jesus – Christians, non-Christians, and everybody in between. All of us. “

Their target audience is everyone watching the super bowl, not just Christians. The content of the fixed version, though theologically true, would be virtually unintelligible—or at lease uninteresting—to those who are not already followers of Jesus.

Those of us who have grown up in the church—and even those of us who have only been Christians for a couple of years—forget how ordinary people talk. We hear God’s grace preached to us each week, and we acclimate to the language of the church. This language isn’t bad—in fact it’s necessary for Christians to understand—but it’s also pretty unintelligible to someone who has never read the Bible, never stepped in a church, and never experienced the love of Jesus through anything more than a Trump bumper sticker.

They are operating from a completely different set of assumptions about Christianity. Perhaps the only thing they know about Christians is that they are judgmental self-righteous hypocrites. Why would they care that Jesus saves? Why would they need saving?

What they do know is that the world is messed up. They see it every day. They know they are hurting. The way to get their attention is to care. Jesus cares. So we should too.

The Problem of Sin

A slightly more perceptive critique of the “He Gets Us” campaign is that it seems to gloss over sin. I actually have the vitriolic black-and-white-thinking pastor friend to thank for proving this one wrong. His main critique was that the people of “He Gets Us” don’t talk about sin, and thus cannot talk about the forgiveness of Jesus through the Cross.

I felt that to be on his intellectual sparring level, I had better do my research. So I spent a half an hour paging through the “He Gets Us” reading plan on YouVersion that is linked from the HeGetsUs website.

After doing so, I am even more in support of this campaign than I was before! My friend was dead wrong. The reading plan lays out the Gospel very clearly and very lovingly. It’s not a bait and switch. It’s not social gospel. It doesn’t gloss over sin. It doesn’t gloss over the cross.

I encourage you to go through it yourself.

If you are NOT a follower of Jesus, it presents a very compelling story of a Man who is also God who cares deeply about you and your experience on this earth.

If you ARE a follower of Jesus, the plan presents an excellent model for how to have conversations about Jesus with your friends. And it might just help you understand the character of Jesus better yourself.

Stay tuned for more on this topic soon.

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