Feb 19, 2023

Even though my favorite team, the 49ers, missed their chance to compete in last weekend’s Superbowl, I still watched the game.

Or at least the commercials.

The ads contained the usual lineup this year in which we were wined, dined but mostly beer’d by the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Heineken and Coors.

Doritos returned as a fan favorite followed by M&M’s, movie studios, tech companies and automakers.

But I wasn’t watching for those. I was looking for Jesus.

More specifically, I wanted to see the anticipated “He Gets Us” commercials.

Chances are you’ve seen these commercials in the last ten months on billboards in major cities. Or in a video posted on social media or streaming services.

The sponsors want you to see a relevant Jesus in issues like immigration, artificial intelligence, and prison reform. They want you to imagine Jesus in your corner as the friend you’ve always needed.

The ads emphasize Jesus empathizing with everyone, especially those unfairly judged or marginalized. Each pitch concludes with an invitation to visit the “He Gets Us” website.

The commercials scored a lot of fans. The USA Today Ad Meter, which ranks commercials, say the ads placed eighth and 15th .

 Yet not all Christ followers are enthusiastic.

Some conservative evangelicals criticize the commercials for overplaying the humanity of Jesus to the neglect of his divinity.

Liberals are more than suspicious. Since the broadcast charges $7 million for 30 seconds, they are on a Jerry Maguire Show-me-the-Money hunt to find out who’s financing this reimagining of Jesus.

 While the campaign has many donors, Christianity Today identifies David Green, the billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby. He is among several who have spurred a $100 million effort with the goal being about a billion dollars over the next three years.

I have to admit some appreciation for the slogan’s message as it resonates with the theme of this column, “Spirituality in Everyday Life.” After all, one of the most powerful aspects of Jesus’ story is how it relates to the everyday human condition.

While the campaign doesn’t tell the whole God story, I’m happy to hear the emphasis on a Jesus who gets us. One who sees us and really understands us.

But the question remains, “Does Jesus really need a PR guy?”

Pastors have long said that the example set by everyday Christians should be the best PR reps for Christianity. Unfortunately, Christians may also be the best evidence against their faith.

But it’s more than possible Christianity may well need to hire a PR firm. The Pew Research Center estimated in 2022 that if Christians in the USA continue leaving religion at the present rate, the faith will shrink from the current 64% of all Americans to only 35% by 2070.

Still, more and more I’m leaning toward relevant truthsayers like Carlos A. Rodriguez, the founder of Happy Givers, a nonprofit in Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez is a pastor and social activist. His social media posts are powerful and provocative thoughts on culture + faith. He is the author of “Simply Sonship” and “Drop the Stones.”

As the final whistle was blown at the Superbowl Carlos wrote in a Facebook post

“You know what would be better “branding” for Jesus? Using those $100 million on the priorities of Jesus:

Feed the hungry

Welcome the stranger

Care for the sick

Liberate the oppressed

Love our neighbors

Yes, He gets us.

We don’t seem to get him.”


Follow Norris on facebook.com/theChaplainNorris Read past columns at www.thechaplain.net Send comments to comment@thechaplain.net or 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or via voicemail (843) 608-9715.