There is great weeping and gnashing of teeth happening on my Facebook feed about the “Jesus commercial” that aired on the Super Bowl broadcast. The ad is the work of an organization that calls itself The Servant Foundation. These folks have created the “He Gets Us” campaign, and if you watch much TV, you probably have seen some of the advertisements. I have.
My reaction was very positive. The ads present a great message that suggests Jesus is understanding, inclusive, and forgiving, traits I recognize in Jesus. My second thought was that this must be a Mormon campaign. They always have had great TV commercials.
Now, as we watched the big game and its infamous commercials, we learned the campaign is the product of godless individuals who stand for everything wrong with the world. Well, not quite, but close. However, they are bad enough that no respectable Jesus follower would allow his eyes to remain open when the big game breaks for a time-out.
How dare people who are not always understanding, inclusive and forgiving, like we are, be allowed to say something good about Jesus.
On top of that, these people are spending millions of dollars on promoting this campaign. If they really listened to Jesus, they would not waste money on TV advertising. We need to remind them there are better ways to spend their cash that would be pleasing to Jesus.
Although the organization behind the campaign claims to be non-political, several of their donors are well-known political partisans. Apparently, that’s enough to poison the message. It’s kind of the opposite of the adage about shooting the messenger who brings bad news. In this case, it’s shooting the messenger who brings good news.
To those who are blowing up my Facebook feed about the danger of this type of Super Bowl commercial, I have two things to say. The first and least important is that rich people do not take financial advice from poor people. In other words, those wealthy folks who are spending millions of dollars on this campaign are not interested in my (or your) advice about what to do with their money.
After teaching Christian stewardship for more than a decade, I realized God has more than enough money to do whatever needs to be done. If we’re not careful, we sound like the disciples who scolded the woman for anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. It’s somewhat arrogant of us to tell people how God wants them to use the resources God provides.
My second observation is another warning about being judgmental. After I read some of the articles criticizing the ad campaign, the words of Jesus came to mind. John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said: “Do not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.”
Can we hear ourselves in the words of John? Jesus, we saw someone doing things in your name, but they are not one of us. It’s tempting to think those who don’t see everything as we do can’t do or say anything right; we have a moral obligation to oppose everything they say or do.
“God can speak through whoever or whatever, including an ass.”
Jesus reminds us it’s not about who is “in” our group. God can speak through whoever or whatever, including an ass (see the story of Balaam in Numbers 22). Ironically, we want to “exclude” those who refuse to be “inclusive” and refuse to “forgive” those who are “unforgiving.”
The ads I’ve seen have a powerful and much-needed message. By rich people spending some of their riches that they will never use to feed the hungry, millions of people will be exposed to a positive message about Jesus.
The theme of the campaign is that “He Gets Us.” He truly does. He gets that we can be judgmental of those unlike us.
It’s a shame we don’t understand ourselves as well as “He” does. Instead of criticizing the messenger, perhaps we should pray the message is heard loud and clear.
Terry Austin says from his first day of life he was taught to love the church. He has lived out that passion in various ways as a pastor, church consultant, author and critic. He is currently a full-time writer and book publisher and actively engaged with house churches.
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