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He Gets Us, and I Get Their Ad: Here's Why

Shawn McEvoy | Director of Editorial | Updated: Feb 13, 2024
He Gets Us, and I Get Their Ad: Here's Why

He Gets Us, and I Get Their Ad: Here's Why

For our part, my wife and I loved the He Gets Us 'Foot Washing' ad that aired during the Super Bowl. We recognized what it was and where it was going from the start, and how true it is about Jesus and his call/example to love/serve others/enemies/opposites. We especially appreciated just that there are flippin' commercials on TV about this awesome God-dude Jesus we do our best to trust but fail to follow so closely so often.

And yet, I feel the disconnect for some friends and family on the left who can’t see beyond the Hobby Lobby funding, as well as the multitudes of conservatives who hate that it makes them want to gnash their teeth over divisive American political issues. But still and again I smile because: I think that’s the chewy center where Jesus lives and moves and has his being, does his best to stir us, is a reason why we killed such a One, why he couldn’t stay dead, and why he’s neither just a meek and chill teacher of nice ideas, nor an angry unrelatably-holy General of an impermanent earthly kingdom.

I don't agree on every issue of life with the financiers and producers of this commercial*, nor how they've sometimes gone about their business. I do actually agree with a friend who doesn't like the ad that making it at all is "an impossible ask" - because you can't make enough people happy, tell enough Truth, or say everything that deserves to be said about life, sin, salvation, servanthood, and political differences in less than 60 seconds without serious gaps and misconstructions. In fact, I felt like that was the same starting point for my take on He Gets Us, just from a different angle. Where my friend would argue that this means the ad would have been better off never existing, I point to the imperfect medium and allotted run time as supremely indicative of Jesus: the way he wasn't in the business of taking sides, that he would not be pinned down, that he would never stay in one place, that he wasn't interested in "pleasing everyone," and had a patented way of always being willing to move us off our dug-in positions.

A Facebook screencap of a post by Alan Muehlenweg

Alan Muehlenweg / Facebook. Used with permission.

I've been involved in several discussions with friends and colleagues alike in person, over text, and on social media since ChristianHeadlines ran this piece on Monday. I've heard or read the (often impassioned) arguments about the "dangers" of 'He Gets Us: Foot Washing.' But here are my responses:

1 - As to whether this ad makes the case that "we don't need to worship Jesus, it indicates that Jesus worships us," I would probably say that in my opinion it makes the case that: "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He doesn't worship us, but he IS somehow crazy for us before we have any of our crap together. That's just Gospel 101.

2 - As to whether this ad's "intended message of unity could be misconstrued as a justification for engaging in certain sins," I would probably say I personally did not interpret the ad's message as merely "unity," "be kind" or "kum-ba-yah." But to follow an example set by, well, you know, and remembering that the people you think are creating your problems aren't THE problem (Eph. 6:12). That you can serve an outsider and love an enemy, and it doesn't mean that 10 minutes later you aren't still on opposite sides of an issue or that neither of you will ever have another thing to repent from.

3 - As to whether the immense amount of money spent on this ad spot "could have been better spent elsewhere," I would probably agree that is always true of every bit of money spent by me, another person, church, corporation, campaign that had any motivation or purpose beyond helping the most needy. But I am also intrigued that I hear this criticism from many of the same people who are fond of saying that mission trips are pointless unless we are actively evangelizing. Well these folks just told billions of people that Jesus is real, he understands them, and sees them as much more than their struggle or pet political issue.

4 - As to whether "Jesus never washed his enemies' feet, only those of his closest disciples," I would say that he washed that very night the feet of individuals who would - hours later - betray him for money (Judas) and deny they knew him over and over (Peter). And he knew that while doing it. And then said, "Now that I have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet."

5 - Finally, as to whether this ad is bad because it has further "divided" Christians on yet another thing, I would suggest that the arguments above show that we have a choice about that; that we have more than enough excuses and Bible verses to look at it another way, and to "let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." (Kinda hard to stir without some agitation; homogenized stagnancy and gripe sessions don't "stir" very well).

Choose to see the best motives and the most positive messages today, Church. Then go and do. I believe in you, and would wash your nasty feet.

*(I do, however, think it's a very good start that such folks are moving in the direction of talking about Jesus as primary, and want Christians to no longer be known for what they're against. My aim in this piece was to speak mostly to an audience on the evangelical right. But for those on my social feeds pointing out that the ad is "backed by people who are against the ones in the ads whose feet are being washed," and "not only are they against them, they cause great harm," I can only offer a gentle suggestion to take the message at face value and the messengers as travelers journeying in a more caring direction. If the ad were insisting you spend your money in their stores or on their products in any way, I might be swayed. But if you didn't know who was funding the ad, how would it come across to you? I never want to be guilty of discounting a life-giving message because I don't like the sender. I'll leave you with this quote that I found very encouraging from David Green regarding the creation of this ad: "What we’re known as, as Christians, we’re known as haters. We’re beginning to be known as haters—we hate this group, we hate that group. But we’re not. We are people that have the very, very best love story ever written, and we need to tell that love story. So, our idea is, let’s tell the story. As a Christian, you should love everybody. Jesus loved everybody").

Photo credit: He Gets Us /

Shawn McEvoy is the Director of Editorial for Salem Web Network, where he has served to produce Kingdom-blessing content since 2005. He is also the former co-host of Crosswalk's Video Movie Reviews and the Inside the Editors' Room podcast.

He Gets Us, and I Get Their Ad: Here's Why