If you’ve watched any football lately, or any television for that matter, you’ve likely seen the ads – black-and-white or color images, some video, juxtaposed with music and narration. They’re story-driven, relatable, personal, emotional, and they all end with the same tagline:
He gets us. All of us. Jesus.
The $100 million ad campaign, originally launched in the spring, is the brainchild of “The Servant Foundation” – a 501(c)(3) organization that’s managed by The Signatry, a Kansas-based foundation that focuses on “discipleship and outreach efforts, Bible translations, cultural care, church plants, anti-human-trafficking missions, student ministries, poverty alleviation, clean water initiatives, and so much more.”
According to campaign officials, the “He Gets Us” ads during the NFL playoffs have made 166 million impressions as of January 20th. But since the overall project began in the spring, the outreach, including billboards and videos on YouTube, have made 6.5 billion impressions around the world.
Given our increasingly secular culture, what’s especially extraordinary about the effort is how little controversy the ads and billboards have elicited, at least to date. After all, the name of Jesus is being projected on massive Times Square signs in New York City – and on TVs in bars and restaurants all around the country – and yet there is far more intrigue than outrage.
The Servant Foundation has purchased two ads for the Super Bowl – a broadcast that traditionally attracts well over 100 million viewers. Focus on the Family purchased a Super Bowl ad in 2010, generating strong opposition from abortion activists who assumed the spot was offensive. It wasn’t. The warm commercial featured Pam Tebow, mother of the then-Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow, telling her story about ignoring her doctor’s advice to terminate her pregnancy.
A few days after the ad ran, we received a note from an abortion-minded woman who said the spot caused her to change her mind. Her daughter just turned twelve.
“Our hope is that you see how Jesus experienced challenges and emotions just like we have,” states the mission on the “He Gets Us” website. “Ultimately, we want people to know His teachings and how He lived while here on Earth.”
Some, on both the right and the left, may have some reservations about the unorthodox campaign. For those on the left, the mere mention of Jesus can be offensive – but our Savior saw that charge coming and unapologetically pled guilty. “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake,” Jesus said in Matthew’s gospel. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (10:22).
Some Christians may be concerned the presentation of Jesus is incomplete – but it seems the sponsoring group addressed that matter in their initial presentation. “This will be a starting point to understanding Him and His message” we read on their website.
Evangelizing a lost and broken world isn’t a neat and tidy effort. It’s also a highly personal matter. God calls all of us to share His Good News, but not all the same way. Street corner preaching may not be my gift or calling, but that conviction may fall on my neighbor’s heart, and I’m thankful for his faithfulness and pray for his effectiveness.
As believers, we should pray for the continued reach of this campaign and even use it to engage our own unsaved family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers in conversation about what matters most of all in life. Ask some questions like, “What did you think of what you just saw?” Or: “Do you think Jesus understands you?”
We cannot underestimate the mere mention of Christ’s name in mass media. It was the apostle Paul, writing to the believers at Philippi, who noted:
Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.