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. As of this writing, nothing in the campaign appears to be explicitly unbiblical, though there are reasons for concern.
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 thin or 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 in the hope people will pursue something. In that sense, there is nothing wrong with “marketing” Jesus to those unreached by other forms of evangelism (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). Yet preaching the gospel is more than merely calling out doctrinal statements.
A major concern about the “He Gets Us” ads is where it leads 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 seem to 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.
Other topics on the 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). 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.