He Gets Us / YouTube.com

Superbowl LVIII has come and gone, and along with it the second appearance by the “He Gets Us” campaign. The campaign issued two new ads during the bowl, leaving Christians divided over the messaging behind them. “He Gets Us” presents itself as a faith-based campaign that wants to remind everyone that “the story of Jesus belongs to everyone.” The purpose of the campaign is “to remind everyone, including ourselves, that Jesus’ teachings are a warm embrace, not a cold shoulder. That he didn’t let pro-this or anti-that opinions prohibit him from seeing the value in all people.” The campaign ads that it “invites you to explore Jesus’ story on your own terms and at your own pace.” It’s site claims it is not associated with any particular church or denomination. “Our campaign comprises humble perspectives from a diverse group of Jesus fans and followers with a variety of faith journeys and lived experiences bound by a common desire: to rediscover and share the compelling story of Jesus’ life in a new way.”

This year, the campaign was led by the newly formed Come Near group, led by CEO Ken Calwell. It was previously funded by the group Servant Foundation, which was criticized for funding perceived anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion causes. This year’s ads featured a 60-second ad entitled “Foot Washing” and a 15-second ad labeled “Who is My Neighbor?” The ad receiving the most ire was “Foot Washing,” which featured a number of ideological and racially opposed groups washing each other’s feet. For example, one image shows a police officer washing the feet of a black man, while another shows a teenage boy washing an older man’s (presumably his father’s) feet. Another shows an abortion clinic protestor washing the feet of a clinic client and another shows a priest washing the feet of an effeminate, queer man.

The ads sparked criticism from a number of conservative Christians, who stated that the campaign offers a left wing bent on Christianity without ever mentioning repentance. “There’s a reason the ‘He Gets Us’ commercial didn’t show a liberal washing the feet of someone in a MAGA hat, or a BLM protestor washing an officer’s feet. That would’ve been actually subversive,” wrote Joel Berry, managing editor of The Babylon Bee. “Because they were strictly following oppressed v oppressor intersectionality guidelines.” He stated the decision seemed meant to sell a political movement or to “sell Jesus to Leftists by hinting Jesus thinks just like them.” Allie Beth Stuckey, who criticized the campaign last year, reaffirmed her concern that the ad doesn’t represent the real Jesus. “If it’s not the Biblical Jesus, then no. If you’ve got the money and opportunity to buy a Super Bowl ad slot, share the gospel. Don’t waste it on some ambiguous mumbo jumbo that makes Jesus into our image rather than depicting Him as the King and Savior He is,” she wrote. Jamie Bambrick, Associate Pastor of Hope Church Craigavon, released his own version of a Christian Superbowl ad, entitled “He Saves Us.” The ad features a number of people in compromised lifestyles leaving those for Christ, such as Kat Von D leaving witchcraft for Jesus, a former Klansman now sitting with a black man, and a former abortion doctor now delivering babies. “Jesus doesn’t just get us,” the ad ends. “He Saves Us.” There were also criticisms from left-leaning individuals, who claimed the money to air the ads could have been used to help the poor.

For its part, the “He Gets Us” campaign said it found pushback “very reassuring.” “A lot of times, we’re trying to put out such a disruptive message about Jesus where people are changing their understanding of who he was and what it means to follow him that many times we do get that reaction, that people from all sides are taken aback by it at the beginning,” spokesman Jason Vanderground told Fox News. “But the more they really explore our message, the more they read about it on the website, I find that other Christians are saying, ‘That’s the Gospels,’” he added. Ryan Bomberger, founder of the pro-life Radiance Foundation, didn’t agree. He pointed to the campaign’s page “Did Jesus Really Struggle as I Do?” According to Bomberger, the campaign makes the claim that “Jesus is just like me, as opposed to the message that I need to change to become more like him.” “That’s the exact opposite of Scripture. We are to be like Christ, not on our own strength, of course,” wrote Bomberger. He concludes, writing, “[Jesus] 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. And any effort to share Christ with the world has to get this simple truth: #HeChangesUs.”

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