#HeGetsUs Doesn’t Get Him
This column originally appeared on Townhall.
Over a hundred million people, worldwide, watched the SuperBowl. Many, like me, are more interested in the commercials than the actual game. As a creative professional who loves creating stuff that’s fearless, factual and freeing, I enjoy some of the annual, overly priced, creativity.
Well, it came time for a commercial break. INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart” played as highly stylized photos, made to look like illustrations, showed various scenes of people washing other people’s feet. The visuals were beautiful. Each image showed contention, sorrow, brokenness, and humility over a pensive piano ballad. It seemed to cover every social issue under the sun. And I was moved.
Then, a jarring thing happened. The peace was interrupted by distorted musical hits and the words: “Jesus Never Taught Hate. He Washed Feet.” Wait. What? As the #HeGetsUs website came up, I sighed. That was an $18 million rebrand of Christianity gone woke.
“Jesus Never Taught Hate”? Well, yes and no. Certainly He called us to “love one another as I have loved you” in John 13:34. His Word, however, also clearly tells us to “hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” Notice the Bible says “what”, not “who”. Loving every human being is not the same as loving every human doing. This ad campaign seems to get these things confused. You can still love someone and passionately disagree with the something they are doing.
As a marketer, I have to ask the question: “Who was the ad for?” If it was for those who are not Christians, who know little if any of the Word of God, what message does it send to them? What does feet washing even mean? Jesus’ humble act, as he washed his disciples’ feet, was not a prescription for encounters with strangers, contrary to the ad’s assertion. It was the result of his closest friends fighting over who was the greatest among them. So, the Savior literally stooped low to symbolically show humility and servanthood by washing their nasty feet. It was their pride that led Him to the shocking display. But those who don’t know John 13 or Luke 22, wouldn’t understand the significance of a King who came to humble Himself to serve and to save. (See this incredible response video by Jamie Bambrick called #HeSavesUs).
If the #HeGetsUs ad was for Christians, why did it need to be inflammatory? Couldn’t it just as easily have said: “Jesus Taught Us to Love.” Nope. Because there is a political bent to this initiative: to pretend that foundational moral issues are simply talking points in needless “cultural wars”. “Jesus was fed up with politics” they claim on their site. No. He was fed up with religious folk distorting God’s Word, His love, and His desire for us to pursue Biblical justice and righteousness.
The image of the young woman in the ad having her feet washed by a middle-aged woman outside of an abortion business (aka “Family Planning Clinic”) could have, instead, been a young pro-abortion activist having her feet washed outside of a Pregnancy Care Clinic by a pregnant staff member. That would have been a wonderful alternative. I’ve noticed in meetings with some liberal evangelicals, they often seem to ignore the expansive care and compassion that happens in our nation’s 3,000 pregnancy centers and 450 maternity homes.
Hate is not what drives sidewalk counselors to our nation’s abortion mills. It’s an intense love, often born out of their own loss and regret. It’s a false assertion to say disagreement inherently means “hate”. It diminishes having moral clarity on issues that matter.
Truth and love are inextricably tied. Put simply: love doesn’t lie.
Under the page, DID JESUS REALLY STRUGGLE LIKE I DO, the campaign writes: “The idea that Jesus is just like me, as opposed to the message that I need to change to become more like him, is extraordinary to me. It completely transforms my thought process around Jesus. It allows me to separate the idea of Jesus from the idea of religion. I’m immediately skeptical of any religious message. But this message doesn’t come with a request or any action item.”
What? That’s the exact opposite of Scripture. We are to be like Christ, not on our own strength, of course. 1 Peter 2:21 says: “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” He never leaves us unchanged. Jesus isn’t an idea. He’s the ideal. What’s the point of a $100+ million Jesus campaign if there’s not a route to salvation? It shouldn’t be website visits or video views; ultimately, it’s the eternal follows of the Christ that died for our sins.
In the HE GETS US HAS AN AGENDA page, they clearly state: “The more ideologically defensive we become, the more we are willing to sacrifice things like kindness, patience, and the respect and dignity of others for the sake of victory — the righteous ends justifying the dehumanizing means. And it’s tearing us apart.” Well, the more ideologically ambiguous we become, the more we are willing to sacrifice truth and love for the sake of meaningless relevance.
Jesus causes division. In Luke 12:51, he talks about this declaring: “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.”
He loves deeply. But he wasn’t merely the “world’s most radical love activist” as the #HeGetsUs campaign strangely proclaims online. He is the Savior, a fact never mentioned in their “agenda”. He’s more than a story. Through our confession and repentance, He becomes the Creator of our transformed stories. Mine is one of them. And any effort to share Christ with the world has to get this simple truth: #HeChangesUs.
NOTE: Just discovered this incredible alternate version of #HeGetsUs that actually captures the entire essence of a loving Savior who rescues and redeems.