“He Saves Us”

“He Saves Us” February 20, 2024

The “He Gets Us” campaign is a major evangelistic initiative.  Its SuperBowl ad has stirred controversy from all sides:  Some non-Christian critics are claiming that those who paid for the ad oppose LGBTQ rights so we can’t believe the ad’s message of mercy and grace.  While some Christian critics think the ad comes across as too non-judgmental and lacking theological rigor.

See for yourself:

Of course the 60-second ad lacks theological rigor.  It does, though, perform the important task of reminding Christian and non-Christian alike that Christianity is about Jesus Christ.  It also reminds both parties that Christianity is about Christ’s grace and mercy that He extends to sinners.

Jesus washes His disciples’ feet and then exhorts us to do the same to others:  “ If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).

The commercial shows Christians doing that.  It perhaps reminds some Christian viewers that they haven’t been extending Christ’s grace and mercy to sinners as they should, making them defensive and making them hate the commercials.  But, at the same time, it implies that Christianity is about doing good to others.  Christianity certainly includes that, but the commercial doesn’t show what Jesus does to change sinners into footwashers.

I “get” what the commercials are doing.  They want to show non-believers the loving side of Christianity, which is often obscured by the culture wars we (quite rightly, and quite lovingly) wage.  And they want to point non-believers to Jesus, who does “get them” in the sense of understanding them completely.  Perhaps this approach can get people to investigate Christianity and to consider the person of Christ.  But it isn’t fully evangelistic, since it doesn’t clearly proclaim the evangel; that is, the Gospel.  Nor is it pre-evangelistic in the sense of proclaiming the Law in such a way that it provokes repentance.  (But maybe it preaches the Law to Christians who refuse to wash the feet of people they despise.)

The Federalist calls attention to a different ad put together by a Jamie Bambrick, the associate pastor of Hope Church in Craigavon in the U.K.  It isn’t just that Jesus “gets us,” it says.  “He saves us.”  It pictures converts from dark places who are now filled with joy:

“Jesus doesn’t just get us,” the ad says at the end. “He saves us. He transforms us. He cleanses us. He restores us. He forgives us. He heals us. He delivers us. He redeems us. He loves us.”

The finals words, “And such were some of you,” as Jordan Boyd points out, are taken from 1 Corinthians 6:11. After a catalog of the unrighteous who will not inherit the Kingdom of God (including the “sexually immoral” and those who practice homosexuality), St. Paul says that through Christ they can inherit the Kingdom of God after all; indeed, that some of the Corinthians he is addressing had been guilty of these sins:

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Of course, this ad will be condemned even more than the other one, on the grounds that homosexuals, abortionists, witches, etc., don’t need to be transformed.  They are good just the way they are.  Actual human beings who are in bondage to such sins know better if they are honest.  And just picturing some specific people in these categories who have come to faith does make a powerful witness.

I like this ad very much, and yet it too stops short of the actual Gospel.  It does show the transforming power of that Gospel, and certainly the Word of God at the end carries that power.  But the ad doesn’t say anything about the Cross.  That is, the way Jesus has saved us, the object of the faith that can transform sinners.

Some of the reactions to the “He Saves Us” video on YouTube show that some viewers miss the point.  They say, in effect, yes!  Christianity is about turning away from your sin and being good!  That leaves out the missing link of Christ’s atonement, in which He takes on our sin and clothes us in His righteousness.  That is the good news that has cleansed these people and that cleanses us.

Exhortations to just be like Jesus are not enough. . . .Yes, we should.  But that’s Law at its most impossible.  We next need to hear that He became like us, to the point of bearing our sin, indeed, being our sin, so that, being in Him by faith, we can have His righteousness.  “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5;21).

I wonder how that could be expressed in a 60 second commercial.


Illustration:  “Allegory of Salvation” by Wolf Huber (cca 1553),  Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44295263

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