He Gets Us Reaction
Season 3 Episode 7: Genius, with a side of Lunacy: ‘He Gets Us’ Super Bowl Ad
In today's episode, Brad dives deep into the controversial Super Bowl ad that sparked a heated discussion among Christians.
24 Min 9 Sec

    Genius with a side of Looney? “He Gets Us”

    Something happened during the Super Bowl that got a lot of Christians’ “knickers in a twist,” as our British cousins would say.

    What did you think of the “He Gets Us” Superbowl ad? Was it an incomplete gospel? Was it anti-biblical? Was it anti-Jesus? Was it making fun of conservative Christians? Was it cultural coddling? Did it give you the Heebie-jeebies?” as one podcaster said.

    Today I want you to look at the ad from a completely different perspective. If you are a Christian, my primary goal is neither to change nor support your opinion. My primary goal is to CHANGE YOUR FOCUS.

    This is the God is the Issue podcast with Brad Bright, where we talk about how God is the issue in every issue.

    I don’t know much about the folks behind the “He Gets Us” Campaign, but they sure kicked over a hornet’s nest. Frankly, the ad made me extremely uncomfortable. But, bottom line, I think that IF the goal of the ad is to help drive a conversation among young Americans about “Who is Jesus?” then I think it was pure genius with a side of loony

    But before we go there, how did the pictures in the ad make you FEELDid you react negatively to any of them? Did you feel like you were being JUDGED unfairly? I did.

    I emotionally recoiled at the picture of a priest wearing a cross while washing the feet of a shameless gay man sporting makeup. However, I also remembered that Jesus reached out to hated tax collectors, prostitutes, and Samaritans. He even told a story about a GOOD Samaritan. In his day such an image was beyond scandalous. I’m sure the religious Jews — gasped!

    I winced at the picture portraying pro-life protesters as unloving. It felt like a cheap shot, even though I think understand why they used the picture: It’s because that is how many Americans perceive pro-life protesters.

    For instance, I remember being at an event in Hollywood a few years ago. I began talking with a young lady about abortion. I explained WHY I was pro-life. She clearly was not. But after a couple minutes she said, “Oh, you’re one of those compassionate pro-lifers,” clearly implying that she did not view most pro-lifers as compassionate. 

    So, I understand why they did it. They were trying to engage with other young women who believe pro-lifers don’t care for women in a crisis pregnancy. However, it still seems extremely unfair. I was once one of those unwanted kids. So, I am grateful for pro-life protesters who keep the issue before the American people, just like the Christian abolitionists kept the issue of slavery in front of the American people.

    Did Christian abolitionists make people mad? Yes, they did! Did they come across to many Southerners as uncaring? Yes, they did! But they did not allow the issue to be swept under the carpet.

    I know there are a lot of black folks in this country today who are extremely grateful the Christian abolitionists kept the pressure on. And may I say that even though I am not black, I am extremely grateful too.

    But I’m not surprised by all the emails, tweets, and podcasts saying it was an incomplete gospel — or even that it was anti-gospel and anti-Jesus.

    Evangelicals are often trigger-happy when it comes to publicly criticizing their brothers and sisters. It’s not that they are necessarily wrong; it’s that they often fail to see the bigger picture. They are FOCUSED in the wrong place. There’s that focus word again.

    If the ad was overtly anti-biblical, we can’t ignore that. Especially if it was anti-biblical on any of the core doctrines of the faith. I think some of the implied theology in the ad seems off base, but the primary message of serving others was one of Jesus’ core messages.

    One well-known, very sincere Christian podcaster, Allie Beth Stuckey, flatly said, “It does not actually depict the biblical Jesus.” She alleged that the REAL message of the ad was, “Jesus came to affirm you.” She said, “The ads seem like they are targeting conservative ChristiansThe ads are making fun of you.” She said the ad gave her the “Heebie-jeebies.”

    She’s simply saying what a lot of Christians FELT. It felt like a cheap shot. You may disagree with her, but don’t dismiss her.

    But I think John Stonestreet of the Colson Center nailed it when he summed up the message of the ad as, “He gets all of us who are tired of Christians imposing their morality on us. He gets all of us who think Jesus is a good guy but don’t like any Christians.”

    In general, it seems John supports what the “He Gets Us” campaign is trying to do. But he said this specific ad was a “miss.” I disagree. I see it as a direct “hit.”

    I have high regard for John. I disagree with John with fear and trembling because he is a lucid thinker. But I think John regards this commercial as a “miss” because he forgot to ask one key question.

    1) Who do you think the PRIMARY target AUDIENCE of this ad is?

    Christians? Absolutely NOT! unless their GOAL was to tick off a lot of allies in the cause of the gospel. That doesn’t seem reasonable. If that was their target audience it was a complete “MISS.”

    All Non-Christians? If so, they alienated a lot of their audience, like Muslims, Mormons, cultural Christians, and highly moral deists. Again, if that was their target audience it was a complete “MISS.”

    All Non-Christians who like Jesus but dislike Christians?  I think we are getting close now, but I think their target audience was even narrower.

    I think it was Americans under the age of 30 or 35 who have a fairly positive view of Jesus but don’t like conservative Christians. But the key is, they are still young enough to be PERSUADABLE. I think this ad was primarily targeting the younger generation of adults in America.

    Can you think of a young person who this ad might resonate with? I can.

    So, John, TRULY no disrespect, but I think this ad was a direct hit... if you ask the question, “Who was their primary target audience?” But I think there is a 2nd and 3rd question most Christians forgot to ask as well.

    2) What do you think the GOAL of this ad was? An attempt to fully explain who Jesus is? Was it an attempt to explain the gospel? Definitely not! If it was, it was a complete miss. So, what WERE they trying to do? It was a TEASER to draw people into a conversation about Jesus?

    It was bait. Just like you put bait on a fishing pole. That’s what this was. It was an attempt to get them to engage in a conversation about Jesus.

    Story: I Found It” campaign—1976

    1st week: I Found it!

    2nd week: “I Found it. You can find it too. Call _______.

    It was a teaser. It was bait. It did not present the gospel on the billboard. But, if they called the number, a trained volunteer from a local church would explain what they found (JESUSand how the caller could find Jesus too.

    The teaser started a buzz just like the Superbowl ad did. It piqued curiosity. It created and HARNESSED CONTROVERSY. Controversy is simply free advertising. It started a national conversation. It COMMANDED people’s attention.

    As a result, Hundreds of thousands of people became followers of Jesus and joined a local church.

    I see a lot of similarities to the “He Gets Us” ads. It’s a teaser, bait, designed to drive people to the “HE GETS US” website. So here is the critical question: If someone goes to the website, what are they going find?

    Have you been to the “He Gets Us!” website?

    “We are hoping to help people consider who Jesus is and why that matters.” That is their stated goal—up front. No hidden agenda there.

    A person who visits the website is going to find numerous invitations to begin a conversation about Jesus at some level. There is a “sign up” or “join us” or “connect” button on every page. It always seems to funnel back to one question: Who is Jesus?

    Isn’t that the primary conversation that all sincere followers of Jesus want to have with non-believers?

    The website is very shrewdly designed to engage non-believers in conversation about: Who is Jesus and why it matters. The website allows a person start at any point in the conversation and then jump to another point in a seemingly random way.

    However, as you explore the website, you realize it keeps nudging you in one direction. It keeps asking you to engage in a conversation about “Who is Jesus?”

    However, some folks thought they could do it better. My response? Great. Do it! I mean that sincerely. We need you at the table too. I wish more Christians would say, “I think I can do it better,” and then go out and try something.

    My problem with many of the detractors is this: they are quick to criticize, but don’t offer better alternatives.

    However, one guy did. His name is Jamie BambrickI know almost nothing about him. He clearly thought he could do it better, so he created an online ad of his own: HE SAVES US.”

    Go google it. It’s masterful. It’s not preachy. It doesn’t verbalize overt truth statements, which is a conversation killer for young people. It’s not some old guy like me talking into a camera. It uses powerful visuals, just like the “He Gets Us” ads. It’s masterfully done. It clearly embodies Jesus’ message to “repent” without ever saying the word “repent.”

    I don’t think it will reach the exact same audience as “HeGetsUs,” but I regard that as a very good thing. I strongly encourage you to go watch it.

    But here is what struck me: if the “He Gets Us” Superbowl ad was never created, Jamie probably would have never produced the HE SAVES US ad.

    I think God knew it would light a fire under Jamie to create another ad as a result. Two for the price of one. I think God is cheering.  Make sure you go watch the ad, He Saves Us. It will be the best 60 seconds of your day.

    But that leads me to the most critical question every believer should ask in situations like this:

    3)  How can I use this to ADVANCE the gospel? When you saw the “He Gets Us” Superbowl ad, did you ask THAT question? Did you?

    That’s the question the Apostle Paul asked in Corinth when he found an idol dedicated to the “Unknown God.” He could have stuck his finger in the air, but he didn’t. Instead, he asked, “How can I use this as a platform to talk about Jesus?” If you don’t know the story, go read Acts chapter 17.

    In situations like this, go ahead and make your critiques, if you must, especially if you have helpful critiques about how to do it better. But I am asking you to deliberately change your primary FOCUS from “Did they do it right?” to “How can I use this to start a conversation about Jesus?”

    Did you hear anyone asking that question following the Superbowl? I didn’t. And yet as followers of Jesus that should be the first question we ask.

    Millions of people saw the “He Gets Us” ad. Many of your co-workers and neighbors saw it.

    Ask them, “Did you see it?” “What did you think about it?” “Do you think Jesus gets you?” “What exactly does He get?” You will learn a lot about a person with this question. “What’s one question you would like to ask Jesus?”

    Use the ad to get the Jesus conversation started. It’s a no-brainer.

    For instance, I took my wife to lunch last week. We were chatting, off and on, with the couple at the table next to us. Eventually I asked if they had seen the Superbowl. A few questions later I asked if they had seen the “He Gets Us” ad.

    Unfortunately, they had not. But it was an easy platform to begin the Jesus conversation.

    Don’t be one of those Christians who always react, finding fault with your brothers and sisters, and as a result, completely MISS the opportunity right in front of them.

    Do your critiques if you need to. FINE. but make sure you ask, “How can I use this as a platform to talk about Jesus?”

    Let me tell you 3 stories about the power of keeping your focus on the main thing from watching my dad during my growing up years. They relate directly to what we are talking about.


    The year I was born, my dad asked a man by the name of Joon Gon Kim to start a chapter of CCC in South Korea. They had become friends in seminary. The American missionaries in South Korean lambasted my dad for putting a National in charge. They were outraged! But it forever changed the way the American Church does missions overseas.

    My dad was FOCUSED on the opportunity in front of him to start more conversations about Jesus. Putting a National in charge seemed like it would accelerate that process. It did. And other mission groups began doing the same thing.


    In 1963, my dad decided to allow a magician named Andre Kole to join the staff of CCC. Andre wanted to use his magic show (his illusions) as a platform for presenting the gospel. Christians across the country reacted with venom. They weren’t just uncomfortable. They didn’t just have the Heebie-jeebies. They were livid. Even a lot of our own staff were very skittish about it.

    But my dad said to Andre, “Come on.” As a result, millions of people around the globe heard a very clear presentation of the gospel over the next 40 years. Hundreds of thousands put their trust in Jesus.

    By the way, for those of you who care, Andre began calling himself an illusionist rather than a magician.

    But the point is, my dad was FOCUSED on the opportunity in front of him to start more conversations about Jesus.


    In the early 1950 my dad wrote an evangelistic presentation called “God’s Plan.” It contained the distilled essence of the gospel. But it started with “God’s Love,” rather than “Man’s sin.” That was almost considered heresy in those days. But as my dad reflected on his life before Christ, he said, “I was a happy pagan. What attracted me to Christ was his love—for me.” 

    In 1965 he turned it into a booklet called “The Four Spiritual Laws.” It too started with God’s love. He realized that honey was more attractive than vinegar, and so that is where he started the conversation. Today, there are over 2 billion in print.

    He was FOCUSED on the opportunity in front of him to start more conversations about Jesus.  

    Much like Jamie Bambrick, who created the He Saves Us ad, in response to the He Gets Us ad, many more evangelistic presentations were born because other folks thought they could do better than the 4 Laws.

    I think Jesus was cheering that His Body was actively asking the question,“How can I articulate the message of the Good News even better.”

    But back to the point. Are there opportunities right in front of you that you have been missing because you were more focused on pulling up tares than growing the wheat? Have you been more focused on the PROBLEM than the OPPORTUNITY?

    The “He Gets Us” campaign starts the conversation about Jesus in places that much of the culture finds compelling, even if I personally find them disturbing.

    One of the newest cardinal rules of American culture is, “BE KIND.” It is one of the ideals among young people today, even though they do a lousy job of it. That’s what the visuals in the Superbowl ad played to. “Be Kind!” The people who created the ad knew their intended audience.

    I’ve given you three questions you can ask yourself in any situation like the “He Gets Us” Superbowl ad:

    1. Who do you think the primary audience is?
    2. What do you think the primary goal is?
    3. How can I use this to make Jesus the issue?

    Never forget that third question. It is the most important one.

    Now let me give you a mirror you can peer into that will quickly help you determine how to respond in any given situation in the future. It’s what I call the “3 R’s” mirror. In any situation you can rollover, react or reframe.

    3 R’s.

    In the case of the Superbowl ad, a lot of Christians ROLLED OVERputting their heads in the sand, and they missed a great opportunity. Other Christians REACTEDThey got the “Heebie-jeebies, so they focused on trying to pull up taresThey also missed a great opportunity.

    But others, REFRAMED by asking, “How can I use this as a platform to present the gospel?” 

    Jamie Bambrick took it step further and created a brilliant presentation leading directly into the gospel.

    So, here is my question for you: in the future, are you going to rollover, react or reframe?

    Are you going to ROLLOVER, sticking your head in the sand?

    Are you going to REACT, primarily focusing on pulling up the tares?

    Or are you going to REFRAME by primarily focus on growing the wheat — as Jesus commanded in Matthew 13?

    The “He Gets Us” campaign isn’t perfect, but it is a stroke of genius with a side of lunacyThey crafted a shrewd message for a generation who worships at the altar of “BE KIND.” Why? So, they could start a conversation with those folks about Jesus.

    But they took a big riskThey ventured way outside the box in order to start that conversation. Whenever you do that, there will always be some who don’t understand and will try to shoot you down — especially in the church.

    I’m sorry I even have to say that.

    That’s why you gotta be just a tad looney. You gotta be willing to get shot at. May God give us more looney Christians.

    God is the issue in every issue —so let’s figure out how to make Him the issue, even if it requires a side of loony.

    This is Brad Bright. Thanks for joining me today.

    If you found this podcast helpful, please like, subscribe or shareGod Bless.

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