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Do We Get Jesus?





EDITORIALS AND COLUMNS

MAR 2, 2024

DAVE MYERS

Everyday Faith

Like for so many, the Super Bowl is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. Sports has a way of bringing people together from all walks of life, and, in that case, it could be for the game, the food, the socialization, or the commercials.

The Super Bowl has long been known as the launching pad for new commercials for the upcoming year, and the commercials often use emotion for their connecting point with the audience. The intent could be to make you laugh (my favorite), cry, or even contemplate a sobering issue.

This year, two commercials were presented during the Super Bowl from #JesusGetsUs.

Let me first say that I am all about engaging the world around us with spiritual conversations and provoking people to think deeply about where they stand with their relationship to God, which seemingly was the mission of those commercials, at first glance.

But those two commercials were simply a continuation of a feel-good series that has been shown for over a year now on TV. The intent behind those commercials may have been to introduce people to Christ, but the image portrayed in those commercials of who Christ is is incomplete.

The theme those commercials advocate is that, no matter the circumstance of where we find ourselves in life, Jesus “gets us.” Maybe another way to word that is that Jesus “understands us.” And maybe yet another way to phrase that is Jesus “empathizes with us.”

Well, that sounds good and makes you feel all warm inside. It’s comforting to know that Jesus gets us, understands us, and empathizes with us, right?

The problem with those commercials is that it provides an incomplete picture of the message of Christ.

You might ask, “Why?”

There’s no doubt that Jesus was fully human. That is certainly true. He experienced life with high and lows, but that’s where the commercials end — an acknowledgement that Christ experienced life like us.

The point of Christ coming to Earth was to save us from the conditions in which we all find ourselves.

Why did Christ come to “save” us? Because God knew we needed saving.

Keep in mind that God is holy, pure, righteous, and just. The Bible tells us that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). And, well, all of us find ourselves in a sinful world with sin in our individual lives.

Ah, now we’re getting to the point of why those commercials stop where they do in the Jesus story. Talking about a person’s sin and their need to change requires a confrontation — a confrontation of who we are and of who we are supposed to be. There’s conflict and tension

between those two.

That doesn’t feel so fuzzy and warm now, right?

Throughout the New Testament, there are more than 40 different one-on-one encounters that Jesus has with individuals in differing circumstances. Do you know how many times out of those 40-plus instances Jesus told the person, “It’s all good, just be who you are”?

That sentiment is not portrayed in scripture.

Truly encountering Jesus requires change.

For followers of Jesus, they’ll be able to tell you firsthand that Jesus possesses enormous love for each and every person. How much love? Enough that he was willing to be beaten, bruised, hung on a cross, and murdered by an unjust mob of people who were trying to cling to power. He sacrificed himself for our sins, not His. That’s the kind of love he has for us.

But that begs the question, “What is love?”

God’s love is the kind of love that not only empathizes with a person (there go I but for the grace of God), it confronts them regarding their sin, shows the person the need for change, and then equips them in it.

That’s the love that Jesus modeled for us time and time again. He was not content to just leave people in a state of chaos, self-harm, and hurt. He rolled up his sleeves and did the hard part that most people don’t do or won’t do.

Empathy, as portrayed by the #JesusGetsUs commercials, just doesn’t cut it.

Engaging our culture with the Christ story is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, but let’s be real about it and let’s also be accurate with the story.

To know Jesus requires change.

There’s no doubt Jesus gets who we are.

The question is, “Do we get who Jesus is?”

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