He Gets Us? Is This Creative Evangelism?

He Gets Us? Is This Creative Evangelism? February 13, 2024

He Gets Us? Is This Creative Evangelism?
Graphic created by the author

As you know, in this column we are all about creative ministry and so today we are going to look at a form of creative evangelism that has, at times, been controversial, the “He Gets Us” campaign to ask the question, “Is this creative evangelism?”

A Little Background

My wife and I have a fairly long commute to the church that I pastor. This Sunday we were listening to some praise and worship music on the radio to help us get ready to minister. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and between songs, the DJ commented on the price of commercials for the big game—$7 million for a 30 second spot. I commented to my wife, “Can you think of any message that would be worth $7 million for 30 seconds?” 

Perspective and Conviction 

Giving myself a little grace, I was thinking of advertisements for beer, snack foods etc. It would take me several lifetimes to earn $7 million dollars and to think of that being gone in 30 seconds is nearly unfathomable. As soon as the words left my lips, a convicting thought came to mind. Yes, there is a message that would be worth that amount and infinitely more—the message of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the Gospel.

Game Time

Later in the day, we gathered with our family to watch the game. The thoughts of the morning had been washed away in busyness of ministry, and I was just getting ready to watch some football. To be honest, none of my teams were in the game, so I didn’t really have a “dog in the fight” so to speak. Instead my focus was on the creativity between the plays, i.e., the commercials and that’s when I saw it… 

Never Tear Us Apart

Photos came on the screen—still photos of people washing other people’s feet. The images were set to a cover of INXS’ song Never Tear Us Apart. It was a haunting version, soulful and dare I say sultry, by an English artist names Paloma Faith. The line of the song that perfectly captured the soul of the ad was “…two worlds collided, and they can never tear us apart.” On closer examination, most of the photos depicted people that are often at odds in the polarized world we live in, brought together in an act of humble service that was demonstrated by Jesus, in John 13. The ad culminated with the words, “Jesus didn’t teach hate. Jesus washed feet, He gets US. All of US.  JesUS.” This was followed by a link to a wonderful article that can be seen here.

What Did You Think?

The commercial is raw and thought provoking, and someone at the gathering asked me what I thought of it. To be honest, I wasn’t ready to answer. On one hand, I loved the imagery. On the other hand, the message felt somehow incomplete, but this much is clear. The clip is a minute long. If the DJ to whom I was listening earlier was correct, someone invested $14 million for the purpose of getting that message out to the world. The message is important. 

Washing Feet?

When I started dating my wife, she was a preacher’s daughter and I hadn’t darkened the doorway of a church in about ten years. I went to church with her because I liked her, but before long, I could tell there was something in this church that I wanted. One day, I told her I wanted to join the church. I thought she would be happy. Instead she frowned and said, “…but you don’t know everything yet.” Trepidation flooded my heart. The people of the church seemed normal enough. What was this strange thing I had not seen? She said, “We have this communion service called “Love Feast” where we wash one another’s feet.” Now, if you’re a person who grew up in that tradition, I’m sure it seems pretty normal, but to this outsider, I found the idea a little weird. “Don’t you have a bathtub for that?” but by then I was committed.

Jesus’ Example

As it turns out, they had a Love Feast service coming up and the church always had an “observation area” for people who wanted to learn more. Someone read the text from John 13. It explained how on the night Jesus was betrayed, before they ate the Passover meal we call the Last Supper, He took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, went to His disciples one by one and washed their feet, from His most sincere followers to his betrayer, Judas Iscariot.

Foot washing in their day was done by necessity. People walked dirt and gravel streets all day, mostly in open sandals, and they shared those streets with beasts of burden and, in some cases, even raw sewage. It was a matter of hygiene and safety. Because the work was really dirty, the job usually fell to the lowest ranking servant in a household. The juxtaposition had to be striking when all of the sudden in this Last Supper, the King of kings and Lord of lords was doing the job. Here is the lesson Jesus taught them in His own words:

John 13:12-17 (ESV) “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Observing and Learning

Armed with this information I sat alone in the observation area, and rather than being “weirded out,” I got it. I saw a man with considerable wealth, at least for our congregation, kneel to wash the feet of a man from the opposite end of the economic spectrum and I understood. This service is a kind of great equalizer for the congregation. It requires humility both on the part of the giver and receiver. By the next Love Feast, I was a new member of the church, and as a new member I was invited to be one of the readers seated at the front table, next to the man who would be come my father-in-law. He was a mission preacher, and one of the kindest, most loving men I had ever met. I was about six months sober and still white-knuckling. When it came time to wash feet, he ended up washing mine and the meaning of the service became even more clear. This brings us back to the commercial. 

He Gets Us?

I’m still going back and forth on the Super Bowl ad. On one hand I loved the imagery and I do feel that this is how we as Christians should treat people with whom we may disagree. On the other hand, I wonder if most people outside the church would get the imagery. If a person manages to find the link and click through to the explanation, and takes the time to read it, the message becomes more clear, but I’ll confess, I missed the link altogether until researching for this column. While we’re at it, what does “He gets us” mean? Does it mean Jesus is okay with whatever we want to do? I kind of doubt it, since He laid down His life to save us from our sins. I know that 30 seconds or even a minute is not a lot of time to communicate the Gospel, but if we miss sin, redemption and forgiveness in Christ, is it the Gospel?

To me the whole “He gets us” idea reminds me of Hebrews 4:15 (ESV), which, speaking of Jesus, states, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” Jesus is fully God and fully man. He lived as we live and faced what we face, so yes, in that respect, “He gets us…” but there’s more to that verse. Further speaking of Jesus it says, “but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” In other words, yes He gets the temptation. I even believe He understands how we fall to the temptation, but surely that is not His will for us. He didn’t die for our sins so that we could continue in them. He came to free us from them. 

The Controversy

Looking at this ad as a creative person, I have no lack of empathy for it’s creators, because having looked at the response, from all sides, it almost feels like they can’t win. An article on the ads from Rolling Stone, spoke against one of the chief sponsors of the ad, the owner of Hobby Lobby, due to some of their corporate policies related to abortion and issues related to gender politics, yet the ad shows images of people in both of those areas of life being served in the name of Christ.

Further I heard and saw people from the church who struggled with the imagery for their own reasons, and some of the things they picked out were valid, while others wrote things that were equally harsh and, in some cases, not very Christ-like. Both of these were bothersome to me for various reasons. I think in this ad, there was a genuine effort here to communicate the love of the Lord, and my empathy comes from the fact that I don’t know if I could get it right in one minute either, especially in a culture that is so divided. 

What About Grace?

Did the producers of this ad get it right? That’s not for me to decide. All I can do is pray their work bears fruit and get back to being faithful to my own calling. That’s all any of us can do. My prayer is that people will see things like this, find their way into a local church, and learn to follow Jesus. That can’t be done in 30 seconds or a minute. This ad was not meant to do that. It’s meant to open the door to a larger conversation.

Were I the writer, I might have said, “Jesus loves us right where we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay there,” but maybe that’s my message to put forth. I plan to continue using my God-given talents to communicate the Gospel, and chances are, I won’t get it completely right every time, so I choose to extend grace to other creatives. I think “He Gets Us” Is a faithful attempt at creative evangelism. Its success or failure will be seen in the fruit it bears. So will ours.  

About Dave Weiss
Dave Weiss is a lifelong artist who earned his living in the fields of graphic design and visual arts for most of his career. When he felt the call to ministry, he ended up using the visual arts as a ministry tool and became a sought after speaker. Today he pastors a church, and has an itinerant ministry in which he combines speed painting and other visual arts, with storytelling, video, animation and preaching God's Word. He has ministered in about 300 venues in 20 states. He is the author of several self published books on creative ministry, creative ideas/prompts and other topics, and is currently working on his first novel. He has an MDIV and DMIN with a focus on creative arts and ministry. More on his work/ministry can be seen at AMOKArts.com. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives