settings icon
share icon

Is the “He Gets Us” ad campaign biblical?

He Gets Us

*This article has been updated in response to the 2024 “He Gets Us” commercials aired during the Super Bowl.

In 2022, the phrase He Gets Us began appearing in advertisements. Each commercial connects a modern cultural theme to the experiences of Christ. These include Jesus facing family strife, persecution, misunderstanding, poverty, and loneliness. Others touch on topics such as tolerance, single motherhood, and religious hypocrisy. The ads connect seekers to churches and discussion groups. Reaction to the promotion has been mixed, and the 2024 advertisement that ran during the Super Bowl was criticized from both pro- and anti-Christian perspectives. As of this writing, nothing in the campaign appears explicitly unbiblical, though there are reasons for concern. The most important of these are the resources to which “He Gets Us” sends its visitors and the too-easily misunderstood message behind their presentation of topics.

Cautious skepticism is always important (1 John 4:1), especially with spiritual themes. No human effort is infallible, but some are more biblically appropriate than others. There are many positive aspects to the “He Gets Us” campaign. Uncomfortable implications fit the pattern of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The chosen topics are likely to challenge those inclined to dismiss—or embrace—stereotypical Christianity. Christ’s own pattern for evangelism started with relationship and worked up to formal doctrine. However, the campaign itself doesn’t anchor into specific beliefs or truths. While it may attract those traditionally unreached, it seems unlikely to ground those seekers in the Bible. Also, some points being made are ambiguous and easily misconstrued.

Terms such as promotion and marketing are awkward with respect to evangelism. Truly, the gospel is not meant to be sold (Acts 8:20). Evangelism is not about salesmanship (1 Corinthians 2:1–2). However, promotion is simply bringing attention to something in the hope people will pursue it. In that sense, there is nothing wrong with “marketing” Jesus to those unreached by other forms of evangelism (see 1 Corinthians 9:22).

Similarly, the absence of deep theology in “He Gets Us” advertisements is not necessarily inappropriate. New Testament evangelism involves publicly declaring the core truths of the gospel (Acts 4:10–12). Deeper doctrine is not the immediate focus; rather, the goal is making people aware of who Jesus is and what He has done for them. Sooner (Matthew 19:21) or later (John 6:60), everyone is confronted with doctrinal truth and must make a choice (John 6:67–68).

A major concern about the “He Gets Us” ads is where they lead those who respond. The website for “He Gets Us” notes Jesus’ death and resurrection. It refers to Him as the Son of God. Some contact links go to Alpha, a small group-focused evangelism ministry. However, other links connect the seeker with local churches without seeming to consider doctrinal guidelines. As a result, the ad campaign may ultimately point seekers toward something other than biblical truth.

God’s people have always struggled to properly represent Him in the world (Romans 2:22–24; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Corinthians 5:1–2). A motivation for the “He Gets Us” campaign is the perceived connection between Western—mostly American—culture and Christianity. Not all such connections are positive. A stated goal of the marketing effort is to show that the actual, biblical Jesus is not defined by such stereotypes. Topics explored in the advertisements deliberately challenge politically conservative, traditional views. Those challenges are not biblically false. And yet, taken as a whole, they echo a political stance typically at odds with biblical faith. Then again, part of what “He Gets Us” seeks to promote is the idea that many political dichotomies are false.

Some of the advertisements are questionable in terms of accuracy. For example, the topic “Jesus was a refugee” equates Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to twenty-first-century refugees fleeing war and poverty. Without question, some aspects of the two situations are comparable. Yet modern politics uses the word refugee in reference to something very different from Jesus’ experience in Egypt. Text on the “He Gets Us” website implies the trip was an aimless desperation tactic: a family blindly running into a distant, foreign land without resources or even the ability to speak the language. In reality, Jesus’ family evacuated to a territory with a considerable Jewish population, located reasonably close to Bethlehem. They did not flee the Roman Empire, but only the jurisdiction of Herod. Further, this happened after the family was given gifts by the magi (Matthew 2:11–12). One of God’s likely purposes for the magi’s visit was to provide funds for the exile in Egypt (Matthew 2:13–15). That’s not to say there are no comparisons between Jesus and modern refugees. Rather, the concern is that “He Gets Us” walks on the knife edge of doing exactly what they claim to counter: repurposing Jesus’ story to support certain political narratives, while playing fast and loose with Scripture.

The 2024 Superbowl advertisement used imagery that may confuse more than enlighten. The commercial included images of people washing the feet of others. Especially controversial was a scenario of a woman outside an abortion clinic, washing the feet of another woman, apparently there to end a pregnancy. Another was a priest washing the feet of a person presumably tied to the LGBTQ community. The tag line indicated “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.”

Without question, ideas such as love, humility, and grace are fundamental to biblical faith. Those are especially important as distinct alternatives to prejudice, tribalism, and self-righteousness. Jesus was criticized for being loving and friendly to those the religious community had written off. He served others with sacrificial love and humility. The New Testament calls believers to be gracious, forgiving, gentle, and kind, even to those who hate the message of the gospel. In that sense, the images included in the 2024 “He Gets Us” Super Bowl commercial have a connection to Christian ideals.

However, Jesus’ act of washing the disciples’ feet came with important context. The lesson was for believers to be humble, rather than seeking power and prestige. It was a call for those already “bathed” by a relationship with Christ to be “cleaned” by asking for forgiveness of sins. In the most literal sense, the idea behind the foot-washing was meant to apply to relationships within the church. Jesus ate and spoke with tax collectors and prostitutes, but He didn’t literally wash their feet.

In addition, the term hate comes with cultural implications. Christian believers are routinely accused of “hatred” for holding to biblical ideas about gender, sexuality, life, spirituality, and so forth. Juxtaposing issues like abortion and homosexuality with a rejection of “hate” comes close to echoing modern culture’s demand that churches abandon historic biblical views. At the same time, the tag line could imply that Jesus’ message—including His call to repent—was not “hate.” It may also be that using the word hate deliberately evokes those accusations in order to refute them. Yet that’s not the most natural impression people are likely to get from the ad.

The “He Gets Us” Super Bowl ad’s choice of images could easily be interpreted as a call to embrace or affirm things that God has called sinful. Giving the advertisers the benefit of the doubt, one might interpret those scenarios to mean that Jesus intends us to be gentle and caring, rather than scolding, as we seek to demonstrate the truths of the gospel. Taken another way, they could be construed as Jesus embracing abortion, sexual sin, false religions, and so forth. At the least, believers should be aware of both interpretations and approach the subject with caution.

Other topics on the “He Gets Us” site seem equally prone to misinterpretation. “Jesus invited everyone to sit at His table” in the sense of being open and forgiving, yet He also confronted people with hard truths about sin and salvation (John 3:16–18, 36). Social hashtags such as #inclusive are often applied to attitudes Jesus never condoned. We can’t properly understand how “Jesus [dealt] with injustice” without recognizing that political power was never His goal (John 18:36). If “He Gets Us” were to clearly connect those topics to biblical resources and counsel, the initial vagueness would not be concerning. Given the campaign’s intended audience and the contacts provided, the topics instead raise skepticism about both intent and effectiveness.

“He Gets Us” is a targeted marketing campaign. It is not a concrete movement or church. It’s uncertain how much influence it will have or how long it will last. Pointing people toward Christ in ways they might not have considered is a good thing (Mark 9:40; Philippians 1:15–18). Providing imagery that might be easily co-opted to teach unbiblical ideas is less beneficial. We should pray the advertisements ultimately inspire conversations about the true, accurate Jesus described in Scripture. The long-term impact of these ads remains to be seen.

Return to:

Questions about Christianity

Is the “He Gets Us” ad campaign biblical?
Subscribe to the

Question of the Week

Get our Question of the Week delivered right to your inbox!

Follow Us: Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube icon Pinterest icon Instagram icon
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy
This page last updated: February 16, 2024