While some took issue with the Christian-based, “He Gets Us” Super Bowl commercials, I believe they are justifiable and have the ability to transform our nation.
During Super Bowl Sunday, the Christian company, He Gets Us ran two ads. The first was a 30-second video advocating for childlike faith. The second, which was a minute long, showcased more breathtaking images, reminding Americans that Christ loved those whom he disagreed with.
While these ads were praised by some, they also managed to stir controversy, which united the left and right. I however, took no issue with the ads or company.
To me, the commercials seemed historic and inventive. I was in for a surprise when in every single one of my classes following Sunday, there was a debate about the ads. Like the rest of the country, some of my classmates questioned the morality of spending large sums on a Christian commercial, the controversial figures who donated to the movement and the theology of He Gets Us.
Social work freshman, Hans Meier, cleared up my thoughts. Meier showed me that if marketing was meant to fill a void, then what better purpose could a commercial serve than sharing the gospel, even if it came at a financial cost? Plus, if a person’s gift lies in marketing, then why not use it for the kingdom of God.
It is said that a 30-second Super Bowl commercial spot equates to $7 million. Altogether, a few donors were reported to have supported the $100 million cost of the two ads. This was arguably the largest point of controversy. Both Christians and non-Christians asked if that money could have gone to different causes.
Meier argued spending that much money shows how important the Gospel is. “It is a poor, materialistic mindset to think giving someone physical resources is of greater value than spreading the truth of Jesus,” Meier said. “There are plenty of happy people who we would perceive as nothing because in the world’s eyes they have little, but really they have everything because they have God.”
Meier went on to cite Matthew 26:11, where Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” However, both Meier and He Gets Us are not dismissing humanity’s physical needs. In fact, He Gets Us has a page dedicated to explaining how much Christ cared for the poor and homeless, especially since He Himself was often homeless.
A second related criticism regarded those who funded He Gets Us. From the way some talked, I thought the company had a secret radical Republican agenda. Call me naive, but I have found nothing of the sort. Looking at the He Gets Us site, I could not find a hint of politics. If anything, it felt progressively open-minded while staying true to biblical principles.
Under a section titled “Who’s Paying for This,” He Gets Us stressed that most donors choose to remain anonymous because the message isn’t about them. The site said about its sponsors, “And in spite of our political differences, in spite of our ideological origins, in spite of all the things that could divide us, we have found a beautiful kinship in the inspiration we draw from the story of Jesus and the power of his life.”
The controversy mainly comes from their subsidiary company, The Servant Foundation, also known as The Signatry. The Signatry’s site says, “since our founding [in 2000], we have facilitated more than $4 billion in transformational grants for nonprofits around the world.”
Left-leaning news outlet, Jacobin, found that The Servant Foundation donated tens of millions to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian legal group, which deals with issues related to free speech, religious freedom, parental rights, abortion and marriage. I understand how some would have a problem with this, but seeing that The Servant Foundation has supported more than 12,000 non profit organizations, this criticism feels nit-picky.
Another issue is that Hobby Lobby co-founder David Green (known for his conservative values) has stated his financial support of He Gets Us. “We’re wanting to say ‘we’ being a lot of different people that he gets us. He understands all of us. He … loves who we hate, so I think we have to let the public know and create a movement, really,” Green said.
Meier and I discussed how members of a political party will often be wary of an organization that is supported by someone with opposing views. Meier emphasized that Jesus does not belong to a political party so it is ridiculous to be divided by a commercial that is meant to unite.
This is the point of controversy that frustrates me the most. News flash — there are Christian conservatives and liberals. I understand following the money to investigate intentions. Additionally, I am biased. I like to shop with my grandma at Hobby Lobby. However, it is absurd to think a conservative or liberal cannot support a non-political Jesus movement. It would be one thing if He Gets Us donated to a certain political cause as many companies do, but they do not.
The third main issue is the doctrine of He Gets Us. This feels like the stickiest dilemma. On the He Gets Us site, intended for the public as well as its church and marketer outreach page, it is clear the movement does not affiliate with any denomination or political party. Instead, it intends to provide a starting point to direct others towards local churches and Biblical scripture.
But also on its outreach page, He Gets Us recognizes the Lausanne Covenant as reflecting the spirit of their mission. This highly influential document, which encourages the world to work together in evangelizing, was chaired by John Strott, and inspired by a committee made up of about 2,700 Chrisitan leaders from over 150 countries headed by American evangelist Billy Graham.
At first, I wished He Gets Us was clearer with their ties with the Lausanne Covenant, but I believe they simply align with the renowned late 20th century evangelical desire for worldwide revival. Still, I could see how some would want more clarity.
Additonationally, conservatives such as pundit Charlie Kirk have criticized the campaign for having a woke influence. Most haven’t gone that far with their accusations, but rather feel the message is too vague.
Meier believes this is a misunderstanding that we’ve witnessed throughout history. “Some might say because the ads are neutral and don’t choose a political side, that they are complacent, which isn’t true. It reminds me of people criticizing Martin Luther King’s message that we should love because they weren’t sold on this approach to the Civil Rights Movement,” he said.
Overall, He Gets Us seems to be a very special company. There is even a page on the site where you can get free merch, and when you select a method of “payment,” you choose currency such as “love an enemy” or “comfort someone who is hurting.” Upon discovering this, Meier and I both asked ourselves in amazement if this was real, or if we had discovered a hint of heaven.
Most remarkable of all, the He Gets Us mission has convicted me. While researching, I found myself agitated by society’s lack of tolerance. However, He Gets Us reminded me that whether I am right or wrong about my support in their company, the only thing that matters is if I love like Christ does.
The company’s mission has arrived at a time when American adults who identify as Christians has gone down by 27% since the 1990s, according to Pew Research Data. I don’t believe all hope is lost. We saw in 2009 how Tim Tebow wearing John 3:16 on his football helmet prompted 94 million people to google the verse. Perhaps He Gets Us can speak to the nation’s deepest desires and curiosities as well.