Watch for—and Challenge—
These Super Bowl LVII Ads
As you watch Super Bowl LVII between the Eagles and the Chiefs this Sunday, what must you be sure not to miss during the game?
If you’re like most Americans, you’ll stay alert to catch every one of the creative, funny, memorable ads developed especially for this one spectacular evening. Then, we’ll all be talking about those ads for days afterward—no matter who wins the game!
However, there are two ads scheduled that you definitely want to catch. When you see them, the question for you will be: Will you, as a Jesus follower, feel compelled for any reason to CHALLENGE them once you see them?
I’m pretty sure I will.
A few days ago, Religion News Service ran this headline to report the backstory of these two ads:
‘He Gets Us’ organizers hope to spend $1 billion
to promote Jesus. Will anyone care?
I wonder: Will they? Should they? Should YOU? Why? Read on.
This Religion News article went on to report:
This year’s Super Bowl will feature a $20 million pair of pro-Jesus ads promoting the idea that Jesus ‘gets us,’ part of the larger ‘He Gets Us’ campaign. Organizers hope to spend a billion dollars in the next three years to redeem Jesus’ brand…
One of the ads aired during the NFL playoffs was titled “That Day” and tells the story of an innocent man being executed.
“Jesus rejected resentment on the cross,” the ad says. “He gets us. All of us.”
Their two newest ads scheduled for this Sunday’s championship game will cost a whopping $10,000,000 for each 30-second spot! (You can view a number of these half-minute ads HERE.)
However, “He Gets Us” may not get it!
Religion News continues:
Some viewers, including evangelical Christians, are skeptical. Author and activist Jennifer Greenberg supports the idea of trying to reach those outside the faith and wants people to understand that Jesus gets them. But that’s not the whole message of Christianity.
“Yes, Jesus can relate to you,” she said. “But what did Jesus come primarily to do? He came to die for our sins.” Connecting emotionally with Jesus is great, she added. But that won’t save your soul.
“I can look at Buddha or Sarah McLachlan or Obama and I can find things in common with them,” she said. “But that does not mean they are going to save me.”
Christian missiologist Michael Cooper agrees that the ads may creatively communicate the humanity of Jesus, but unfortunately, they leave out any suggestion of his divinity. “I began to wonder, is this the Jesus I know?” he told Religion News. In the Journal of the Evangelical Missiological Society, Cooper writes further about the ads’ deficiency: “This wasn’t just a great teacher or preacher who was incarnated. This was God himself.”
Other leaders regard some of the ads, such as one depicting Jesus as a refugee, as potentially controversial within the current political climate, making Jesus look too “liberal” to millions of conservatives.
Still others question what Jesus might think of the amount of money spent on the ads. Would he prefer that the money be spent on ministering to people’s physical needs, or making the world a better place in his name and for his sake, or spreading the gospel itself?
Or would he want us to invest some of that one billion dollars to raise up transformative Christ Awakening movements among God’s people in order to lay a more credible foundation for outreach to nonbelievers?
Religion News concludes that the campaign seems merely to be “latching on to this touchy-feely, conveniently vague, designer Jesus.”
Designer Jesus? Interestingly, this last insight dovetails with what the producers and funders of this ad blitz suggest is their primary goal. In so many words, they argue: “We are attempting to rebrand Jesus for a post-Christian society.”
Is this what he needs from us today?
Actually, “rebranding Jesus” may be the most important reason for Christ followers to stand up and challenge these Super Bowl ads—and the evangelistic mission they claim to advance.
In her most recent weekly column for the New York Times, Tish Harrison Warren (an evangelical Episcopal priest) recounts the dangers inherent in the widespread propensity among Americans in general towards all kinds of ways to rebrand ourselves:
The notion of our very selves — our thoughts, beliefs, family, friends, feelings, images and vulnerabilities — being part of a brand would have been incomprehensible for most of human history. Now personal branding threatens to encroach on every moment of our lives. An article in Forbes magazine this month even coached readers on how to bolster their personal brands while they sleep.
This phenomenon has affected our society in vast ways . . . To reduce ourselves to brands, however, is to do violence to our personhood. We turn ourselves into products, content to be evaluated instead of people to be truly known and loved. We convert the stuff of our lives into currency.
Could it be that, in the same way, efforts to “rebrand” Jesus run the risk of doing violence to his personhood? Could that be what happens before the eyes of over 100 million viewers of Super Bowl LVII this Sunday?
Recently, my good friend Salvatore Luiso, who provides valuable research for our Christ Now team and is totally committed to a Christ Awakening in our nation, offered me his personal analysis, which I think is worth consideration by all of us:
I’ve read other articles about this campaign in Religion News Service, Christianity Today, and from evangelical social commentator David French, and I’ve watched several of its ads.
I recognize the intention and goals of the campaign. I have no doubt that it has good intentions, but with all due respect, I think it is misguided and does not represent and promote the REAL Jesus anywhere near as well as it should.
And I think spending $1 billion is not just unwise but a staggering, shameful waste. With all due respect, there are much better ways to spend that money—including other evangelistic efforts.
The “brand” of Jesus does not have a problem in the United States. Many Americans, who aren’t Christians, consider Him to have been one of the best men—even the best man—who has ever lived. They know that He was loving and taught others to love as He did.
The “brand” of evangelicals, though, does have a problem in the United States. One of the main reasons is that too many of us evangelicals are too unlike Jesus. If we were much more like Jesus, our “brand” would still be disliked and even hated by some other Americans, but for much better reasons. For example, instead of being hated for hypocritical unrighteousness, we would be hated for sincere righteousness. It would be better to spend $1 billion to teach the evangelicals of America to be more like Christ than to tell the world that “He Gets Us.”
That leads me to ask:
Which comes first—“He Gets Us” or “We Get Him”?
In view of the critical concerns like those above, which are held by many other Christian leaders regarding the drawbacks of this well-intentioned attempt at Christian outreach, I’d like to propose an alternative campaign.
In this proposed campaign, here’s the game plan: First, for the moment, let’s take a step back from any widescale effort to reassure non-Christians that because Jesus became one of us, he has a personal experience of our infirmities and sufferings, has faced our kinds of struggles and challenges, and is, therefore, empathetic to whatever issues we’re dealing with right now.
Instead, our priority mission becomes helping CHRISTIANS to get HIM! To get more of him. To get more of him for who he is right now. To get more of him in view of the full extent of his ascended glory—that is, his greatness and goodness, his majesty and supremacy as head of the Church, Lord of the nations, and Master of the universe!
Let’s name this campaign “We Get HIM”! This strategic initiative launches inside the Body of Christ with the followers of Christ.
In this crusade, if any rebranding of Jesus seems necessary, it must first happen among his own disciples! “We Get HIM” should seek to help fellow believers get a much larger, grander, more comprehensive, more robust, more compelling vision of who the risen, reigning Son of God is today.
The case for mounting such a movement within our churches has been made in many ways over the past twenty years. The fact that millions have left our churches over the past two decades is just one red flag about the “crisis of Christology” we are in. The politicization of the Church in America is another.
Recent research from Barna, Gallup, and the Pew Foundation reveals how vast numbers of born-again Christians are themselves in desperate need of being “reintroduced” to their Savior. You might even say millions of us need to undergo a “reconversion” rising out of a fresh encounter with our Savior that feels as if we are meeting him again for the first time. I call this revolutionary transaction, whether individually or corporately, a “Christ Awakening” experience.
Before we try to help the unchurched and unsaved to see CHRIST more clearly, what the current precarious moral condition of America requires is for Americans in general to see CHRISTIANS who are more clearly Christ-focused, Christ-driven, and Christlike.
At the same time, our nation desperately needs to be confronted with CHURCHES that are saturated with the wonders of Christ by the Spirit of God—churches gripped by and exhibiting his reign, his righteousness, his compassion, his holiness, his sacrificial heart, and his saving power.
Our land must become repopulated from coast to coast with Christ followers who are so consumed with living in the manifest presence of their Redeemer that he becomes the obvious, overriding passion of their individual lives as well as their lives together—not politics, not conspiracies, not celebrities, not theologies but the very person of King Jesus himself.
God’s people must first get CHRIST. After all, for three years, multitudes during Jesus’ earthly ministry witnessed every day how profoundly he understood and cared about them. Even so, they cried out at the end, “Crucify him!” Why? Because they never adequately grasped the person he is.
But also, Jesus already knew that the “us” he “got” was full of sin and in need of salvation. True, crowds followed him. They were attracted to him. But many of them, he said in John 5, “refuse to come to me that you [they] might have life.” Remember how he wept over Jerusalem a few days before they sent him to the cross. His heart was broken over how often he had tried to gather them to himself, “but you would not.”
That is what he got about us. We all are in rebellion against the living God and his purposes. Therefore, John 1 records this: “He came to his own, but his own would not receive him.”
As a Christian author of over 50 bestsellers, Randy Alcorn reminds us in It’s All About JESUS: “We must look at the complete Jesus revealed in Scripture, lest we remake him in our image, with his only attribute being love.”
Consider this: We say, “Half a loaf may be better than no loaf at all.” But is it equally true that a “half a Jesus” is better than no Jesus at all? In other words, if our outreach offers to those outside God’s Kingdom a diminished Savior, who is all about a form of “love” determined by how well he “gets” their needs, is that better than no Jesus at all? Can a half-truth claim to be the truth? Or is it a counterfeit and, as a result, counterproductive or even dangerous?
Come join me in the new
“We Get HIM” campaign!
By now, you can guess where I am headed! The issue is a matter of priorities. It is also a matter of urgency.
How wonderful it would be to have a billion dollars like “He Gets Us” but then use it instead to foster, encourage, enflame, empower, and then nurture and serve a massive enterprise of bringing the whole Church to be wholly alive to the whole Christ. Potentially, that could become the most powerful evangelistic penetration of our nation and the transformation of our culture that anyone has imagined.
That’s why I’m calling for this preeminent crusade called “We Get HIM.” Whereas the “He Gets Us” outreach puts the emphasis on “US,” this priority in-reach initiative stresses “HIM.”
In the book of Acts, we read of many such situations where a gospel explosion happened among the believers within a few weeks or months—including with those in the churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and Thessalonica. The good news in these accounts is that Scripture tells us our God “is no respecter of persons.” Thus, what he has done for others—like in the churches and cities mentioned in the New Testament—he is able, willing, and ready to do for us in our churches and communities today.
The wonderful fact is this: The “We Get HIM” type of crusade is already underway. Its formal name is “The Nationwide Campaign for an American CHRIST Awakening,” which launched in 2021. Learn all about it HERE.
As you do, take time to view the short video where I give you the vision, goals, expected outcomes, and the way forward in the crusade.
On that same page, you also may download the 16-page “Strategic Plan, which looks ahead at the next two to three years. In it, you’ll discover we don’t request the level of extravagant funding desired for “He Gets Us” (for them: $100 million for the first year; $1 billion over five years). Rather, our groundswell movement seeks around $2 million to reignite God’s people around God’s Son to fulfill God’s purposes for America and beyond. (You’ll find the budget spelled out in the Plan.)
Additionally, if you would like to know more about how I see the big picture of the coming Christ Awakening movement, take five minutes to read my blog post:
THE HOPE AT HAND:
The Answer to All Our Prayers Is Drawing Near
Bottom line: The message that Jesus “gets us” isn’t half as important right now as the uprising that awaits the Church as we get more of the REAL Jesus.
So, do YOU get him? For all he is? For all he is today? Would you like to get more of him?
Then, go to ChristNow.com. At the top of the homepage, you’ll find a button marked “Where do I start?” Click on it to be taken to TEN OPTIONS to help you begin to build a much larger, more exciting, more life-changing vision of—and relationship to—the King of kings. He’s the one who very soon will end up “getting” everything—not only you and me but the entire universe, over which he will reign in power and love forever and ever!
About the Author
Over the past 45 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ Awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular Daily CHRIST TODAY Podcast.