Painfully hip or too big to fail?
“He Gets Us” outreach aims to open doorways to the Church
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You’ve probably seen them by now—short TV ads that are really mini-movies, each a modern-day allegory that ends with a twist: a pivot to Jesus, along with what’s intended to be a surprising revelation about His life:
“Jesus was fed up with politics, too.”
“Jesus invited everyone to sit at his table.”
“Jesus let his hair down, too.”
See? the video spots say. Jesus is relatable. “He gets us.” That’s the name of a television and online ad campaign that’s kicking up buzz: He Gets Us. Organizers call it an outreach, and it’s funded to the tune of $100 million by a coalition of institutional partners and wealthy, mostly anonymous, Christian donors.
Maybe that’s why CNN decided to investigate. In a two-minute piece, correspondent Tom Foreman first describes the campaign’s messaging, noting that much of its website reads like a “stand against radical right-wing politics and related divisiveness.”
Indeed, the site explains that “Jesus lived in the middle of a culture war. … And though the political systems were different … the greed, hypocrisy, and oppression different groups used to get their way were very similar” to today. Many pages on the site feature hashtags like #Activist and #Justice.
Sounds like the site might lean left … until Foreman notes that He Gets Us donors are “linked to staunchly conservative causes, and it raises alarms for some skeptics.”
Cue Chrissy Stroop, a former evangelical who says he is also a former man, now presents as a woman, and hates on evangelicals for a living. Stroop tells CNN He Gets Us “is a PR effort and website strategically developed by right-wing evangelicals to rope people in with inclusive-sounding messaging and get them plugged into local churches that will eventually teach them that to be a Christian means to support right-wing politics.”
What can one say about such penetrating analysis … LOL?
He Gets Us has other critics. Some say all those millions should be spent on ministries that aid the poor. And some Christians reprove the outreach as theologically lite. It’s a valid point, though in my opinion not fatal. For example, one video, about the execution of an innocent man, concludes with a black screen displaying these words: “Jesus rejected resentment on the cross.”
Well, He may have. But that falls so short of what Jesus actually did on the cross that it’s like ending the Creation story with a void and formless earth.
Still, it’s not heresy. And I get He Gets Us. It’s neither sermon nor seminary. It’s a doorway. A conversation starter. Like the “What Would Jesus Do?” swag a lot of us wore in the ’90s. Or the “I found it!” buttons evangelicals pinned to their shirts in the ’70s, hoping people would ask what they’d found.
When the film The Passion of the Christ debuted in 2004, one reviewer carped that handsome Jim Caviezel portrayed a “Beefcake Jesus.”
He Gets Us Jesus is less Beefcake than Man-Bun.
The videos portray Jesus as a super chill, inclusive dude who could relate to the marginalized because He shared their struggles. Truth is, He was those things before the Cross (Matthew 11:29, Luke 14:13-14, Luke 15:1-2, Isaiah 53:4, Hebrews 4:15)—and is those things today and forever. Well … except for the super chill part (Revelation 1:12-16).
And though I’m not entirely sure Man-Bun Jesus has the spiritual heft to spark a revival, I am sure God will use the gifts and ingenuity of our brothers and sisters over at He Gets Us (Romans 8:28). There’s no doubt they’ve got people talking about the Lord. And depending on when you’re reading this, tens of millions of viewers in more than 160 countries will be hearing about Him—or already have—during the Super Bowl. That’s because the He Gets Us folks bought a $20 million commercial slot on a global television event—one where people specifically tune in to the commercials.
Hmmm. You’d almost think these people know what they’re doing.
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